Author Archive
Nov 21

White House Correspondents’ Association Protests Obama White House

It’s only the 5th year of the Obama Administration but the White House Correspondents’ Association has had enough. The Obama White House has been pushing White House coverage limits by having their own photographer,the great Pete Souza, cover most of his events and distributing his photos instead of the press getting access.The White House communicators are fighting back saying previous administrations have done the same. FishbowlDC’s new editor Patrick Tutwiler shows us the letter.

November 21, 2013

Jay Carney
Press Secretary
The White House


Dear Mr. Carney:
We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further. Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government. To be clear, we are talking about Presidential activities of a fundamentally public nature. To be equally clear, we are not talking about open access to the residence or to areas restricted, for example, for national security purposes.

The apparent reason for closing certain events to photographers is that these events have been deemed “private.” That rationale, however, is undermined when the White House contemporaneously releases its own photograph of a so-called private event through social media. The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.

All of the following events, with the exception of the McCain-Graham meeting, were reported as “read-outs” by the White House with “official” White House photo(s) attached. They illustrate the troubling breadth of the restrictions placed upon newsgathering by the White House to record governmental activity of undisputed and wide public interest:
• On July 10, 2013, the President met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
• On July 11, 2013, the President met with the Co-Chairs of the U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
• On July 29, 2013, the President met with former Secretary of State Clinton (White House photo also distributed via Twitter).
• On July 30, 2013, the President and Vice President met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
• On August 26, 2013, the President met with African-American Faith Leaders.
• On September 2, 2013, the President met with Senators McCain and Graham.
• On October. 11, 2013, the President and family members met with Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, a person of great public interest.
While certain of these events may appear “private” in nature, the decision of the White House to release its own contemporaneous photograph(s) suggests that the White House believes these events are, in fact, newsworthy and not private.

The right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials acting in their official capacities. Previous administrations have recognized this, and have granted press access to visually cover precisely these types of events, thus creating government transparency. It is clear that the restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercut the President’s stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition. To exclude the press from these functions is a major break from how previous administrations have worked with the press.

Moreover, these restrictions raise constitutional concerns. As the Supreme Court has stated, the First Amendment protects “the public and the press from abridgment of their rights of access to information about the operation of their government,” Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 584 (1980). The fact that there is no access whatsoever only heightens those concerns. As one court has noted in considering a similar restriction: “The total exclusion of television representatives from White House pool coverage denies the public and the press their limited right of access, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” Cable News Network, Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. 518 F.Supp. 1238, 1245 (N.D. GA 1981).

The organizations and individuals signing this letter strongly believe that imposing limits on press access, as your office has done, represents a troubling precedent with a direct and adverse impact on the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing.

We consider this a most serious matter and urge you to provide appropriate access for independent photojournalists to all public governmental events in which the President
participates. Again, we see this letter as the first step toward restoring full press access to these events. Accordingly, we request an immediate meeting with you in order to resolve this very serious situation. We ask that you contact Steve Thomma, President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and Sam Feist, current television pool chair, to set up the meeting.

Thank you.
ABC News
Agence France-Presse
American Society of News Editors
American Society of Media Photographers
Associated Press
Associated Press Media Editors
Associated Press Photo Managers
Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Association of Opinion Journalists
Bloomberg News
CBS News
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox News Channel
Gannett Co., Inc.
Getty Images
Lee Enterprises, Incorporated
The McClatchy Company
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
National Press Club
National Press Photographers Association
NBC News
New England First Amendment Coalition
News Media Coalition
Newspaper Association of America
The New York Times Company
Online News Association
Professional Photographers of America
Radio Television Digital News Association
Regional Reporters Association
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists
Tribune Company
The Washington Post
White House Correspondents’ Association
White House News Photographers Association
Yahoo! Inc.

Oct 10

Senator John McCain Headlines Daily Beast Hero Summit

Hero Summit 2012

Tina Brown kicks things off at the second annual Daily Beast Hero Summit with an interivew with the always interesting Senator John McCain. As politicians line up to claim they are outraged by the government shutdown’s affect on veteran services. Syria and the controveries in Congress will all be covered starting at 8:30 a.m. when Senator John McCain joins Tina Brown in a special session.

Afterwards the morning program continues with a look back at the 20th anniversary of the events behind Black Hawk Down with the producer of the 2001 film Jerry Bruckheimer. The day continues featuring speakers from Capitol Hill, the military and the premiere later tonight of Peter Berg‘s “Lone Survivor.”

You can watch the day’s panels live here:

Jul 8

Dina Powell’s Huffington Post Egypt Column

Dina Powell, President George W. Bush’s former State Department and White House top adviser, and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation is weighing in with an important Huffington Post blog on Egypt and it’s future. Its women who can help lead Egypt out of the grip of chaos.

“As the world watches events in Egypt unfold, its leaders have a unique opportunity to be an example for the region by fully empowering its women to play a greater role in the economy and society. Egypt will never reach its full potential and its economy will continue to struggle until it gives women an equal seat at the table.

Power outages, fuel shortages, high youth unemployment, and struggling small businesses are only a few of the many symptoms of Egypt’s floundering economy. Over the last two and a half years, GDP growth has slowed dramatically and foreign investment collapsed. Without change, the economy is likely to get worse. While Egypt needs to resolve a myriad of challenging issues, the economy needs to be the primary focus of the next government. Until young people find jobs and the economy stops its free fall, Egypt will continue to suffer wide spread discontent and disillusionment. And one way to increase economic growth is to expand the role of women in the economy.

Historically, women have played a critical role in Egypt’s economy and government. In recent years, however, attitudes toward women in Egypt have unfortunately taken a turn for the worse. The limited rights women have fought so hard for are imperiled and violence against women appears to be increasing. Human Rights Watch has reported that over the recent four days of protests, 91 women were sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square. A 2013 United Nations study found that a shocking 99 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, an increase from 2008 when a similar study suggested that 83 percent of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed.

Egyptian women are severely underrepresented in the economy. According to World Bank data from 2011, only 24% of Egyptian women participate in the labor force. A 2010 report on Egypt published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor concluded that the entrepreneurial gender gap in Egypt is among the highest in the world. The paucity of women business owners is damaging to the Egyptian economy especially since the World Bank has found that female owned firms in the region hire more workers than male owned firms.

My firm, Goldman Sachs, has conducted research that shows that narrowing the gender gap in employment could increase global income per capita as much as 20% by 2030. Research also suggests that educating and empowering women catalyzes a virtuous cycle that positively affects the health, education and productivity of future generations. As a result of this research, Goldman Sachs launched the 10,000 Women initiative in 2008, a global initiative to help local economies grow and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women entrepreneurs with a business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital. 10,000 Women fully capitalizes on woman entrepreneurs, which is just the boost that Egypt’s economy so desperately needs.

In Egypt, over the last four years, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative has made meaningful progress helping empower women by working in partnership with the American University in Cairo and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to train more than 300 high potential women business owners in Egypt from nearly every governorate throughout the country. The 200-hour curriculum focuses on leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Participants also receive access to business advising, networking and ongoing training workshops. In addition, 10,000 Women works closely with the Social Fund for Development in Egypt to provide qualified participants with capital.

Despite challenging local economic conditions, eighteen months after graduation, the majority of 10,000 Women participants are successfully growing their business: 60% of surveyed participants in Egypt increased revenues over the previous year and nearly 60% added new jobs. In addition, over 90% of Egyptian 10,000 Women participants mentor other women in their communities.

At the last 10,000 Women graduation I attended at the American University in Cairo, I met Sayeda, an inspiring entrepreneur who runs a growing cleaning business. Most of her employees are women, many widows and divorcees that have had very difficult lives. The jobs she is providing give them a sense of pride, dignity and confidence and most importantly optimism in their future. She believes everyone should be allowed to dream and one’s dream should not be limited. If Egypt can live up to that aspiration and motivate and inspire women like her, its future will be very promising.

Nearly 100 years ago, the Egyptian Poet Hafez Ibrahim said that when you educate a woman, you create a nation. Even though Egypt is known as the very cradle of civilization, this proud ancient civilization is birthing a new nation filled with the hopes and dreams of its young population.

If the new Egypt, the most populous Arab nation in the world, empowers its women fully, it can also become the strongest, most prosperous and hopefully most peaceful nation in the region.”

Jan 15

Interview with Mallory Hagen, Miss America 2013

Mallory Hagen spoke this morning on Fox News with Gretchen Carlson, but she began her interview reign with WHC Insider’s Tammy Haddad last Saturday. Hagen was named Miss America in Las Vegas and we spoke with the Brooklyn, New York resident who tap-danced and talked about toughening gun laws during the 92nd annual Miss America Pageant on the ABC Network.

She began her college education in her birthplace Auburn but moved to New York four years ago to find herself and restarted college. Mallory previously competed in the Miss America Outstanding Teen program three times and the Miss New York competition twice before calling herself “a bit of a bridesmaid until now.” Her stunning white dress that wowed the studio audience cost $400, less than her prom dress. Mallory’s mother, a dance instructor, told the WHC Insider she knew when she was pregnant with her that one day her daughter would be Miss America.

Jan 8

Obama 2 Inauguration Speakers Announced

The Presidential Inaugural Committee keeps rolling out the announcements as they figure out how to handle getting more tickets to people who had planned to purchase on line. Here is today’s release.

WASHINGTON, DC — The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced today that Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams has been selected to deliver the invocation and Rev. Louie Giglio has been selected to deliver the benediction at the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony of President Obama and Vice President Biden on Monday, January 21.

President Obama was involved in the selection of participants in the Inaugural program, including Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio.

“Vice President Biden and I are honored that Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio will participate in the Inaugural ceremony,” President Obama said today. “Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality, and opportunity.”

“I am humbled to have been asked to deliver the invocation for the 57th inauguration of the President of the United States—especially in light of this historical time in America when we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement,” Myrlie Evers-Williams said today. “It is indeed an exhilarating experience to have the distinct honor of representing that era.”

“It is my privilege to have the opportunity to lead our nation in prayer at the upcoming inauguration in Washington, DC,” said Rev. Louie Giglio. “During these days it is essential for our nation to stand together as one. And, as always, it is the right time to humble ourselves before our Maker. May we all look up to our God, from whom we can receive mercy, grace and truth to strengthen our lives, our families and our nation. I am honored to be invited by the President to lead our nation as we look up to God, and as we look ahead to a future that honors and reflects the One who has given us every good and perfect gift.”

Historically, Inaugural Ceremonies are not held on a Sunday because Courts and other public institutions are not open. This year, in accordance with the requirements of the United States Constitution, President Obama and Vice President Biden will officially be sworn in on Sunday, January 20, 2013. The following day, Monday, January 21, 2013, a ceremonial swearing-in that is open to the public will take place on the West Front of the United States Capitol.

The official swearing-in ceremony on Sunday is being planned by the PIC. The ceremonial swearing-in on Monday is overseen by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Myrlie Evers-Williams Biography
Myrlie Evers-Williams served as the chair of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998. The widow of Medgar Evers – the NAACP’s Mississippi Field Secretary who in 1963 was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi – she fought for 30 years to bring his assassin to justice, and preserves his legacy through the Medgar Evers Institute. An author of three books about their civil rights’ work, she currently serves as a distinguished scholar at Alcorn University in Lorman, Mississippi. Evers-Williams became the first black woman to head the Southern California Democratic Women’s Division. She has received 16 honorary degrees from leading colleges and universities in addition to numerous civil rights, human rights and community awards.

Reverend Louie Giglio Biography
The Reverend Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and the founder of Passion Conferences, a movement gathering college-aged young people since 1997 in events across the country and around the world. Most recently, Passion hosted more than 60,000 people at Passion 2013 in the Georgia Dome, uniting students in worship and prayer and raising awareness about modern-day slavery, human trafficking. In 2008, Louie and his wife Shelley led the team that planted Passion City Church, a local community of faith with the spirit of the Passion movement. Their desire is to inspire this generation to live for what matters most.