The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Say 'Government cheese!'

Bush is known for his canned speeches, and having an extraordinarily difficult time talking coherently when he isn't carefully scripted. But I recently became aware of another issue-- apparently the White House prefers to avoid having him photographed without pre-planning everything.

It's just the latest disturbing issue from an administration that works harder to control information than any of their predecessors.

White House photographers aren't looking for a handout these days. In fact, they've gotten far too many.

While the practice of providing news organizations with staged photos of events involving the president goes back decades, veteran shooters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue say it has become almost a regular occurrence with the Bush Administration. A review of Associated Press archives found that during the entire eight years of the Clinton administration, only 100 handout photos of events were released to the press. During the first five years of Bush's presidency, more than 500 have been distributed.

The key is that each of these events was closed to news photographers.

"They average about two per week," said Susan Walsh, an AP photojournalist and president of the White House News Photographers Association, after directing that review. "The White House staff photographer's role is to document the president. They have now crossed the line and become public relations photographers for the administration."