AP Editors: White House Pushes Propaganda Photos

Top Associated Press editors criticized the Obama administration for essentially pushing propaganda photos rather than allowing news organizations independent access to photograph the president.

Official White House photographer Pete Souza takes photos of President Barack Obama greeting family members of the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2013. (Getty Images)

AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said the AP has been allowed to photograph Obama in his office just twice, and called the White House’s tight control over access and its use of official photos basically propaganda, according to Knoxville News Sentinel digital director Jack Lail.

The comments came Wednesday at the Associated Press Media Editors’ national conference in Indianapolis. The Obama White House has often billed itself as the most transparent in history, but Lyon said previous administrations have allowed greater access.

It’s common practice for the White House to distribute its own images of the president during significant moments, such as the famous “Situation Room” photo taken during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but also during less intense times such as signing legislation at his desk or meeting with comedian Carol Burnett. White House social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr allow the administration to release such images directly to the public, rather than rely on the filter of news organizations.

“This works because newspapers use these handout photos,” AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said, going on to urge newspaper editors not use the White House’s “press release” photos.

The AP criticized the “Obama image machine” in an article in April, writing that through the lens of the administration, “Obama’s family is always photogenic, first dog Bo is always well-behaved and the vegetables in the South Lawn kitchen garden always seem succulent.”

(H/T: Daily Caller)