Theodore's World: Obama and His WH Threaten San Francisco Chronicle For Video Of Protest Of Obama At His Fundraiser in S.F.

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April 29, 2011

Obama and His WH Threaten San Francisco Chronicle For Video Of Protest Of Obama At His Fundraiser in S.F.

Protesters disrupt President Obama's breakfast fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco on April 21.

SF Chronicle video prompts White House threat

SF Chronicle

The White House threatened Thursday to exclude The San Francisco Chronicle from pooled coverage of its events in the Bay Area after the paper posted a video of a protest at a San Francisco fundraiser for President Obama last week, Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee said.White House guidelines governing press coverage of such events are too restrictive, Bushee said, and the newspaper was within its rights to film the protest and post the video.

The White House press office would not speak on the record about the issue.

Chronicle senior political reporter Carla Marinucci was invited by the White House to cover the Obama fundraiser on April 21 on the condition that she send her written report to the White House to distribute to other reporters who did not attend. Such "pool reports" are routinely used for press coverage at White House events that are not open to the entire press corps.

About 200 donors paying $5,000 to $38,500 each attended the event at the St. Regis Hotel in the city, a day after Obama visited Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley touting the proliferation of "new media" breaking the confines of traditional journalism.

At the St. Regis event, a group of protesters who paid collectively $76,000 to attend the fundraiser interrupted Obama with a song complaining about the administration's treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked U.S. classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

As part of a "print-only pool," Marinucci was limited by White House guidelines to provide a print-only report, but Marinucci also took a video of the protest, which she posted in her written story on the online edition of The Chronicle at and on its politics blog after she sent her written pool report.

Marinucci said several other attendees, including protesters, also filmed the protest. She said she felt professionally obliged to use the same tools that private citizens were using to report on it.

Written guidelines of the White House Correspondents Association allow print reporters to "snap pictures or take videos" as long as they provide a print report to the pool. The rule does not explicitly state whether it applies when the pool contains only print journalists or if it applies only when television crews are also present. Officials at the group did not comment.

Print versus video

Bushee said reporters must be allowed to cover news wherever it occurs, using the tools they have.

"If something more serious had happened, would you still observe the rules?" Bushee asked. "We expect our reporters to use the reporting tools they have to cover the news, and Carla did."

The White House should re-examine its guidelines that segregate print and video, Bushee said, in an era when all news outlets use multimedia platforms. To do otherwise, he said, would ban journalists from reporting on events that non-journalists are free to cover.

The San Francisco event last week was "in a public place with hundreds of people," Bushee said. The White House policy regarding video, he said, "is objectionable and just is not in sync with how reporters are doing their jobs these days."

He also said the White House rules are "not in the spirit of what the Obama administration is trying to project" in its claims to be the most transparent administration ever.

Marinucci, whose Shaky Hand Productions video blogs with Chronicle reporter Joe Garofoli have broken new ground in political news coverage, said old rules segregating print, photography and television journalists are obsolete.

"Everyone in an audience has video capability," Marinucci said. "That's a reality. God forbid if the president was attacked, would you just let citizen journalists record the event? This is not 1987. There is no such thing as pure print anymore, and you're basically telling us we cannot record news when it happens and citizen journalists can."


Wild Thing's comment........

Obama making fans, left and right. This time it's in going after a reporter who simply took some quick video of a newsworthy occurrence (a protest) at a fundraiser.

Posted by Wild Thing at April 29, 2011 04:50 AM


Thing is these clowns are protesting because he's not radical enough for them. Can you imagine what condition this nation would be in if they had their way?

Posted by: BobF at April 29, 2011 08:47 AM

When I saw the headline I thought "Oh no", conservatives aren't stooping to using liberal tactics. Luckily it is some really leftist goons going after their man. The idiots paid $76,000 to act like children.

obama and his sensitivities and policies are beginning to tick off even some of his former supporters. I assume that the SF Chronicle is a liberal biased paper. I think this time around that obama is going to find campaigning much more tough than the first time.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at April 29, 2011 09:55 AM

I think it was Krauthammer who noted these are the symptoms of someone in over his head getting desparate. Our nation is adrift, rudderless, no one at the helm. We the people, yes, you and I, must fill the sails by communicating forcefully and often to our representatives.

Posted by: tom beebe st louis at April 29, 2011 03:24 PM

76,000 for one of his dinners is preposterous, that is an outrage. At least they could invite OJ.

Posted by: Mark at April 29, 2011 08:42 PM

Bob, thanks for pointing that out. Good point too about if they got their way.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 29, 2011 11:38 PM

Tom, Hahahha I looked at the heading again and see what you mean.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 29, 2011 11:41 PM

Tom beebe, I agree so much, we need to keep communicating with our representatives.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 29, 2011 11:46 PM

Mark, heh heh good one.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 29, 2011 11:47 PM