US denies ‘Orwellian’ news manipulation

US denies ‘Orwellian’ news manipulation

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
US denies ‘Orwellian’ news manipulation

Carney rejects that the US administration impose more constraints. REUTERS photo

The White House has rejected claims that it had clamped down on press access more than previous administrations after it was accused of mounting an “Orwellian” image control campaign.

President Barack Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney faced a fresh grilling from reporters who have been complaining for months that the in-house White House public relations shop is churning out propaganda photographs and crimping editorial freedoms.

The association representing White House reporters has warned that streams of official photographs and videos detailing Obama’s behind-the-scenes activity are no more than “visual press releases” that constrain independent news coverage. Carney said that the White House press shop was committed to working with photographers to provide more access to Obama.

The latest spat in a long-burning dispute between reporters and photographers erupted when pool photojournalists were not allowed to take pictures of Obama and former president George W. Bush aboard Air Force One this week en route to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

In a New York Times opinion article under the headline “Obama’s Orwellian Image Control,” the Associated Press’s director of photography Santiago Lyon complained that the president had “systematically tried to bypass the media by releasing a sanitized visual record of his activities through official photographs and videos, at the expense of independent journalistic access.”