Local reporters will not be allowed inside San Francisco’s Hotel W today to cover President Obama’s appearance before hundreds of donors, the Chronicle reported this morning. Instead, coverage will be limited to White House pool reporters, who will feed reports to the rest of the media.
The Chronicle, which had previously been allowed to cover Obama’s events in San Francisco, contacted former White House press aides who called the move a mistake.
- Nicolle Wallace, a former press secretary to Republican President George W. Bush, called the ban “idiotic … inexplicable on the politics side, let alone the press side.”
- “For a Democrat to go to San Francisco and not invite the local press is like George W. Bush going to Crawford, Texas” and doing the same, she said. “This is a place where people want to be reminded about what they love about the guy.”
- Chris Lehane, a former spokesman for Democratic President Bill Clinton, was also baffled by the move, saying they always had local pools.
- “It’s not only the right thing to do in terms of respecting the Fourth Estate, but it typically translates into better press coverage,” he said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that access results in the occupying of more real estate in the newspaper and on television.”
- Ken Lisaius, who oversaw local White House press coverage as a former deputy director of the office of media affairs in the Bush administration, said he “simply can’t recall a time where we didn’t provide for a local pool. It’s part of a transparent and identifiable government.”
The Chronicle this morning also had a scathing editorial that began, “The Obama White House’s restrictions on media access to its fundraising events makes a mockery of its claim to be the most transparent administration in history.”