Editors of the wire news service, The Associated Press, are decrying the president’s refusal to grant free and easy access for photographers, characterizing his insistence on circulating press release pictures that are snapped in a controlled setting as overkill.
Specifically, his actions are tantamount to propaganda, said the AP director of photography, Santiago Lyon, at a recent national conference for editors in Indianapolis.
The White House regularly releases photos of the president that are captured by his own paid staff. The AP has only been allowed to snap shots of Mr. Obama on two separate occasions — both, during his first term, The Daily Caller reported. All the others were taken by administration staffers and given out to members of the press.
This is a bit more than previous presidencies have done, said the editors, in the report. And the only reason the Obama White House gets by with it is because media outlets use the photos, said AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll.
“This works because newspapers use these handout photos,” she said, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
The AP has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s handling of the free press. In 2008, the wire service sent a letter to his campaign, saying “there are many ways in a campaign to control your message and conduct private meetings that do not involve deceiving the press corps.”
Just a few months ago, the AP circulated an article that accused the Obama administration of “limiting press access in ways that past administrations wouldn’t have dared, and the president is answering to the public in more controlled settings than his predecessors. It’s raising new questions about what’s lost when the White House tries to make an end run around the media, functioning, in effect, as its own news agency.”