The Obama administration has a reputation among the national media for being excessively controlling when it comes to the president's image. Rather than relying on traditional media to get out its message, the White House uses social media and its own in-house photographer Pete Souza to disseminate photos and information on President Obama.
Longtime political journalist Ron Fournier writes at the National Journal:
Unlike media photographers, official White House photographers are paid by taxpayers and report to the president. Their job is to make Obama look good. They are propagandists – in the purest sense of the word. ...
Journalists understand that the president's family and national security events must be off-limits at times. Journalists also don't object to the White House using social media; those are platforms as legitimate as televisions and print. The problem is that the Obama White House is simultaneously restricting access of independent media while flooding the public with state-run media.
On Thursday, the White House Correspondents' Association sent a letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney calling for an end to banning news media photographers from supposedly private events that are still photographed by Souza.
"The apparent reason for closing certain events to photographers is that these events have been deemed “private," the letter reads. "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." Read more at Politico.