Late last month, the White House banished a San Francisco Chronicle reporter from pool coverage for the “infraction” of filming a group of activists protesting an Obama fundraiser. But the administration’s heavy-handedness with reporters reached a new level today. A Boston Herald writer has reportedly been kicked out of the pool coverage for an Obama fundraiser, because the White House feels the newspaper is too conservative. The Herald itself broke the story:
The White House Press Office has refused to give the Boston Herald full access to President Obama’s Boston fund-raiser today, in e-mails objecting to the newspaper’s front page placement of a Mitt Romney op-ed, saying pool reporters are chosen based on whether they cover the news “fairly.”
The White House was clueless enough to email its complaints to the Herald , which promptly printed them on today’s front page.
“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich wrote in response to the Herald’s request for access to the president’s fundraiser. Lehrich claimed that the Herald was biased because it recently ran an op-ed about Mitt Romney on its front page, instead of giving more attention to Obama’s Boston visit.
“My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the President’s visits,” Lehrich wrote.
Apparently the White House isn’t aware that publishing editorials on the front page is a long-standing tradition in tabloid journalism. And apparently it believes that it has the power to tell newspapers what they can and can’t be printing. The White House’s media bullying is becoming a pattern, and it’s one that could begin having a chilling effect on coverage. News organizations need to start speaking out about his, because any one of them could become the next victim.