January 27, 2014

White House Photo Access (Ongoing): Carney Plays Souza, Shoots Press. Plus: the Invisible Lunch.

Call it insult to injury as the White House press secretary takes over the official Instagram site the day before the State of the Union address. In the shadow of the media boycott of White House–generated imagery, the Administration seems determined to see how many different ways it can mock the press for seeking more access. First there was: “here’s your access.” Then there was the AirForceOne filibuster. Next came a spray availability to the otherwise private lunch held weekly between POTUS and VPOTUS.

Obama Biden lunch photo

“This is part of our effort to make good on our promise to provide more access to photographers who cover the White House,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

— via Politico

Billed as special access, David Campbell pegs it for what it was: an invitation to a photo op.  Notice how how prone Obama sits, by the way. It’s hard to tell how willing he even is to go along. More Machiavellian still was the timing, Biden needing a little propping that week, skewered as he was in Robert Gates’s new book. And never mind there is nothing so invisible about this ritual:



Carney and the White House have generated a lot of noise (and in house imagery) via social media about their prep for the State of the Union (#InsideSOTU), topped off by the act of putting White House visual access into the hands of a photographic rube.

Here are some other examples of Carney’s bad photography yesterday:

The shot of the press corps, however, is a real poke in the eye. Not only isn’t it flattering (see: Ann Compton, Mark Knoller, etc.) it’s a perfect exhibition of control, turning the camera, and the tables, on the one’s whose job it is to do the capturing. No wonder they didn’t look amused.

(photos 1, 6 & 7: : Jay Carney/White House Instagram. photo 2: Pete Souza/White House.photo 3: Washington Post. photo 4: Susan Biddle/Getty Images caption: George HW Bush with Vice-President Quayle in 1989, looking southeast . photo 5: Reagan Library. photo 8: unattributed via White House Twitter)

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Michael Shaw
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