Press Bounced From White House Protest

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As efforts to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" flounder, President Obama has faced increasing frustration from gay right activists. A day after protesters shouted Obama down at a California fundraiser, several servicemen handcuffed themselves to the White House gate in protest of DADT.

The gay rights story became a media rights story after police barred members of the press from entering nearby Lafayette Park, forcing them away from the protesters. An enterprising cameraman filmed policemen moving the media back, and the video spread rapidly through the blogosphere.

Outraged at the media barring, bloggers from both sides condemned the White House for infringing on freedom of the press.

  • 'Most Transparent White House Ever...' reads the tongue-in-cheek title of a post from Politico blogger Ben Smith. Normally one for sober analysis, Smith peppers in some stronger language to highlight the rarity of preventing the media from covering an event in plain sight. "People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests," he writes. "A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move 'outrageous' and 'ridiculous.'"
  • Latest Obama Mistreatment of the Press  True/Slant's Robert Iafolla is less circumspect, calling the barring "a disturbing step" and listing other instances of the administration "freezing out" the press. "Obama has taken active steps to ward off the presidential bubble – it’s why he kept his BlackBerry and reads 10 staff-selected letters from the public each day," he admits. "But... the White House’s treatment of the press corps, the Summit shut out, and the abortive media ban of the protest Tuesday all point to something different, signs of a retreat." Iafolla suggests an about-face from Obama in the form of a prime-time press conference might repair some of the damage.
  • Protesters Will Not Be Silenced "There is no excuse for this," fumes Daily Kos's BarbinMD, who links to the video of the press removal with a condemnation of the White House's treatment of the media and gay rights. "This was the reaction to the presence of six protesters, military veterans all, tired of stall tactics designed to guarantee that they will continue to be denied equal rights in a country they fought to defend."
  • Disturbing Move by Obama  Though Big Journalism's conservative blogger Bruce Carroll doesn't "really get into the whole "shouting down the President" and "handcuffing to the White House gates" approach to things," he echoes the left's outrage at the lack of access for the media. "It is very disturbing that Obama’s people are using the District police to prevent reporters from doing their jobs and covering an act of peaceful civil disobedience," he lectures before getting in an obligatory shot at liberal media outlets. "I can only imagine the breathless and shrill outrage by network news anchors tonight if Bush-Cheney had kept the press away from the White House during an anti-war protest in 2005?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.