Hat tip to Ben Smith at The Politico LINK for obtaining a letter to the Obama campaign from six Washington Bureau Chiefs, including the NBC’s late Tim Russert, complaining about being misled by the Obama campaign. The bottom line: reporters paying a lot of money to travel with Obama were misled about him being on the plane with them. “Each of our organizations is reviewing whether we will reimburse the campaign for last night’s flight,” the letter said.
Click below for the letter….
News organizations complain about access to Obama
The Times mentioned today a letter from Washington bureau chiefs of six leading news organizations to the Obama campaign, complaining about access about about being deceived by campaign aides.
I’ve obtained a copy of the letter, whose signatories include AP’s Ron Fournier and the late Tim Russert of NBC. It was sent June 6, after Obama flew his press corps to Chicago and stayed behind to meet Clinton. The news organizations, in the letter, threaten to withhold payment for the flight.
More broadly, the organizations complain that Obama offers less access to the press even than President Bush, keeping even a single pool reporter out of his security bubble. He also answers relatively few questions, and his agreement to admit reporters to fundraisers remains partial: Last night, the pool reporter, the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut reported that she was confined to a Kennedy poolhouse while Obama talked to donors.
Here’s the letter:
To: David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs
There are many ways in a campaign to control your message and conduct private meetings that do not involve deceiving the press corps. Last night, the press corps traveling with Senator Obama was misled, and was also flown to Chicago without the Senator. The Washington bureau chiefs of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and the Associated Press strongly protest the events of last night.
To review, the press corps was told the Senator would be in the motorcade from Bristol to the airport. He was not. Then, the press corps was told the Senator would actually join them at the airport. He did
not. When pressed repeatedly, Robert Gibbs and other press aides insisted the Senator was on his way to the airport. He was not. When the campaign plane took off without the candidate, there were loud protests from the press corps because we were not given the option of staying in Washington. We do not commit to fly on charters to fly with press aides; we make that commitment to fly with the candidate. Each of our organizations is reviewing whether we will reimburse the campaign for last night’s flight.
The decision to mislead reporters is a troubling one. We hope this does not presage a relationship with the Obama campaign that is not based on a mutual respect for the truth. Our joint mission is to cover the
candidate on behalf of our millions of worldwide viewers and readers. Those individuals expect truthful and fair coverage from us. Your campaign expects nothing short of that from us as well. Surely we should expect the same from you. We sincerely hope we can expect a relationship based on mutual trust in the coming months of coverage.
Going forward, we know from experience that covering a presidential campaign requires that some representatives of the press corps be with, or near, the Senator at all times as part of the “security package,” just as the White House press corps is with the president. There may be times when the Senator needs to address the press corps about unexpected and dramatic news events, and there may be times when history demands the press corps be in close proximity to the Senator. This is standard
operating procedure for the President of the United States, a job to which he aspires, and for presumptive nominees.
We hope to work closely with you on these and other coverage issues throughout the campaign.
ABC News Robin Sproul
AP Ron Fournier
CBS News Chris Isham
CNN David Bohrman
Fox News Brian Wilson
NBC News Tim Russert