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WH Press Corps Upset With Being Banned From Executive Order Signing

The White House banned journalists from coming to the signing of a much-negotiated executive order on abortion yesterday, and, as expected, not everyone in the Press Corps was happy to hear that. Yet the voices shouting “what about transparency?” weren’t coming from the usual suspects–Robert Gibbs was explaining himself this morning to reporters from the AP, CNN, and MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.

The White House did not allow news reporters or photographers into Wednesday’s Oval Office signing of the order reaffirming a ban on federal funding of abortion. Instead, it released a “nice picture,” as Gibbs put it, by White House photographer Pete Souza. Needless to say many reporters had a problem with being given a photo by someone on the White House payroll in exchange for the presence of any journalist at the signing of the order.

Most shocking among the contentious discussion this morning was the following exchange Politico reproduced between Gibbs and MSNBC’s Chuck Todd:

“Well, I don’t know why you’d want to attack Pete,” Gibbs said, “but I’m going to stand up here and defend Pete’s. . .”

“It’s not transparent, and it’s a vital issue,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“And you will have a lovely picture from Pete,” Gibbs said.

The list of news outlets that have protested their exclusion from the health care bill signing, according to Marr, are the following: AP, Reuters, Getty Images, CNN and Politico itself. MSNBC also didn’t seem to thrilled with the idea, as per Todd’s comments. Notice something missing?

Fox News was not only completely mum on the issue, but used the photo on Your World with Neil Cavuto. ABC News– the organization from which Fox acquired John Stossel and, thanks to Jake Tapper, the first to protest when the White House dismissed Fox News as “not a news organization”– also used the photo. Perhaps they were never expecting to be invited in the first place. More likely, they are enjoying the show from the sidelines while reaping the benefits of providing information to viewers that competing sources are refusing to air.

[Photo via White House Flickr]

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