Nothing makes a flak freak out faster than a reporter who won't follow the rules. Which, of course, is one of the reasons reporters love to break them. (Full disclosure: TLP did this as much as possible when he was a reporter. Especially with flaks who used to be reporters. Fun!)
This stunt by the Obama press office was pure asshattery. Phil Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle was happy to call them out for it on HuffPost:
The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.OK, so some rules for pool reporters make sense. Like sharing. The whole point of the pool system is for reporters at a restricted event to share with their colleagues. This keeps every event from becoming a roving clusterfuck and besides, sharing is nice.
White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.
The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci — who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times — pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.
She was part of a "print pool" — a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard* colleagues — which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as "pen and pad" reporting.
But that's a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist's tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn't leak through your pocket.
But busting a reporter for covering breaking news at an event in the most practical way — ("Protesters started singing? I wonder what that was like.") — is dumb. If only because it looks dumb. And guess what, more and more reporters are being forced to become one-man bands — writing, tweeting, blogging, shooting video — so get used to it.
Of course, this is the White House that banned Twitter. And got laughed at.
* Psst, Phil. The word is "horde." (I still love fucking with editors.)