WH posts video of press-free bill signing
Stepping up its efforts to bypass the traditional media, the White House released official, government created video of a bill signing President Barack Obama conducted in the Oval Office today--a bill signing the White House press corps was locked out of.
The video posted on the White House website runs less than two minutes and contains banter between Obama and the bipartisan Congressional group which pressed for the Travel Promotion Act, a bill that sets up a new entity and fee mechanism to encourage foreigners to come to the U.S.
In principle, it doesn't go beyond what many White Houses have routinely done: releasing official White House photos. But even that practice has led to protests from independent still photographers who have traditionally covered such events.
Freezing out TV cameras and reporters ensures that Obama won't be asked nettlesome questions
--say, about the very delicate state of health care reform on Capitol Hill. (The major networks have a generally-observed policy of not permitting their cameras into an event without a reporter or producer present who can choose to ask a question if he or she sees fit.)
Sometimes allowing a White House camera to capture an event gives the public a window on moments that the press didn't see, but it also gives the White House great latitude to manipulate the president's images and words as his aides see fit
. One other note: White Houses have used military personnel to take official videos of events for decades, but such images were rarely, if ever, released in real time. The Obama White House has a staff videographer who came over from the campaign and produces material for use on the White House website.
I'm posting the White House-produced bill-signing video below. (Yes, I'm playing into the White House's hands here, but people are free to make up their own minds about the practice.)