THE WHITE HOUSE did not allow outside photojournalists to photograph the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Barack Obama. Instead, the White House distributed the above image to media outlets.
The Washington Post and New York Times refused to publish the government-issued image. The Associated Press refused to distribute the image to their members around the world.
"Government-controlled coverage is not acceptable in societies that promote freedom," Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, told the National Press Photographers Association. "And that is why we do not distribute government handouts of events that we believe should be open to the press and therefore the public at large."
The argument is that the Dalai Lama is a controversial figure in China, where America is trying to build alliances. Uncensored images of Obama and his Holiness laughing and smiling might make the Chinese believe that Obama favors the Dalai Lama.
A similar situation happened last January when Obama was sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in private after the two fumbled the words during the official inauguration. The White House did not allow outside photographers then, and the mainstream media largely ignored the government-issued images.
Is there anything wrong with running the above image? Is it psuedo-censorship, or a violation of the First Amendment? Or are the media outlets taking themselves too seriously?
6 months ago