The American media have been infuriated by their treatment this weekend at the hands of the White House. It seems the print and broadcast press were refused any access at all to President Obama during a critical summit meeting held this Sunday in Florida. Whom was the President hosting? Vladimir Putin? Wen Jiabao? Angela Merkel?
How about Tiger Woods. In what was described as an historic first, the Leader of the Free World met the Leader of the Golf World in an 18 hole golf showdown. The event was so secretive that the White House would not announce who won, other than to say that the President pocketed $15 from some sort of bet. As can be expected anytime presidential security is involved, the golf club was on complete lockdown, Secret Service agents hid in the woods around the golf course, and military jets patrolled the skies overhead during the match.
What seemed to upset the press corps was not that they were locked out of the event, but that a reporter for Golf Digest magazine, who happens to be a member of the club, was able to gain entry and Tweeted throughout the day as the players progressed from hole to hole. How insulting to the hard-working press corps of the White House that someone who is not even a member of their club was allowed to scoop them on the story of the year!
Do you want to know something really insulting? It has taken eight years of the George W. Bush administration, and now four years of the Barack Obama administration, for the White House press corps to finally notice that they have not been allowed to do their job by the administrations they are responsible for covering. And when I say “responsible”, I mean that in the constitutional sense. The United States is not a parliamentary democracy, where the prime minister must on a weekly basis appear in front of parliament and defend himself from criticisms, complaints and ridicule leveled by the opposition. The US is a republic, and if the president wants to hide in the White House, or conduct the affairs of the public in the deepest secrecy, who is there to stop him?