White House Upsets Press Photogs Again, Locks Them Out of Dalai Lama Meeting


The Obama Administration is yet again making headlines thanks to its ‘closed-door’ policy when it comes to anyone other than official White House photographer Pete Souza getting time to photograph the President.

This time the controversy revolves around President Obama’s meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a meeting with far-reaching political implications that everyone but Mr. Souza was yet again shut out of.

Initial reports that the White House was drawing independent press photographers’ ire by severely limiting access to the President broke all the way back in November, and yet the problem still hasn’t been solved. Not for lack of promises that positive change was on the way, but rather lack of any action to turn those words into reality.


“[The National Press Photographers Association] is deeply disappointed,” said NPPA general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher, “that — despite promises by the White House to work with news organizations to improve access to newsworthy events involving the President — they barred independent photo coverage of today’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, only to issue their own photograph of the event a short time later.”

And it’s not just the NPPA that is speaking out against this decision and the administration’s policy in general. Both the AP and Reuters are refusing to publish the photograph at the top of this post in protest.

“We requested independent access to the meeting between the president and the Dalai Lama both verbally and in writing but were refused,” said AP vice president and director of photography Santiago Lyon. “The AP will not be distributing [the official White House] photograph to our customers because we strongly believe that access was possible and should have been permitted.”

For more on this story, be sure to read the NPPA’s coverage here. And once you do, share your thoughts in the comments. Are photographers overreacting? Should Pete Souza himself speak out against this policy? Let us know what you think.

(via NPPA)

Image credits: Photographs by Pete Souza, Courtesy of the White House Flickr Stream

  • tomdavidsonjr

    I guess I don’t understand how you “exposed” him. He is vocal enough about his opinion (which he is entitled to have) to make it clear that he dislikes this president, this administration and the media that he believes carries water for them. He is not hiding anything in his comment. What bothers me is that you decided that his opinion meant he is either a member of the Tea Party or the KKK (code for Right Wing radical, I guess) – with no other information than the 98 words that he used to express his opinion.

    I think his post was at a tangent to the topic of the article, but not completely unrelated. What you may consider “an old sad song” is important enough to him to be held as a profound belief, and for him to take the time to express his opinion on it is well within his rights on this forum.
    I worry about people like you who think that the answer to criticism from the right (or the left, for that matter) should be met with (in your words) “public shaming” instead of civil discussion. He may be completely wrong. But wide swaths of opinions and beliefs give color and depth to civilization, and I think that resorting to “public shaming” (as you called it – others might call it “trolling”) does nothing to diminish the person you are trying to shame, and succeeds only in making the person doing the shaming look (in the eyes of the discerning) petty and incapable of engaging in rational dialogue.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    That the room is too small for the photographers just means they should hold the meeting in a bigger room. This is about politics, featuring an elected president — of course the nation’s media should be allowed to cover it and it’s up to the government to make sure the room is big enough.

  • Tyler Magee

    free press sure 40+ photographers shoved in a little room for the same story NO. That is taking advantage of our freedom

  • alealeale ale

    I think he has the right to not want a dozen of photographers in his face during a meeting…

  • alealeale ale

    Why? So untalented photogs that are unable to find a real job can make a few cents off of a picture? Come on

  • harumph

    I think you need to reread the First Amendment. You don’t seem to understand what “freedom of the press” means. It’s not an all access pass to the White House.

  • harumph

    “While the meeting today addressed the photo access issue with Carney, the question of improved access was not resolved.”

    I don’t see any promises of greater access in Carney’s lip service, and it doesn’t look like the NPPA did either.

  • byoung328

    Unfortunately they aren’t. This little tidbit is attached to every single photo they distribute. “This official White House
    photograph is being made available only for publication by news
    organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the
    photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not
    be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails,
    products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of
    the President, the First Family, or the White House.”

  • morgannagrom

    If a photo is taken by government employee in the course of performing their job, there is no copyright.

    Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105: “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government”