Friday, February 19, 2010

White House to Photogs: No "Hello Dalai."

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?

9 comments:

Jess Lopez said...

It is absolutely intolerable that the government would control any images to be published. I admire the Washington Post, New York Times and AP for taking a stand on this obvious violation of the First Amendment. Once we begin letting the government draw boundaries on the First Amendment, where do they end?

Que said...

I don't disagree with the idea of giving media outlets a photograph already taken of President Barack Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama in the White House. We see what the media did with the Emperor of Japan, and President Barack Obama last year.

theCloth said...

I don't a mind WH "grin and grip" picture. It is OK to print verbal communications for the government under the disguise of "sources" and OP-ED "pieces" but not images? As far as AP, Washington Post, and New York Times are concerned, they always let the USA government draw boundaries. I seldom see the pitiful plight a Palestinians in these rags.

(Vienna) Liang Chen said...

Obama meet Dalai is rediculous, just like the British Prime Minister meed the PA mayor...I really cannt figure out the purpose for Barack Obama to meet Dalai, except...

Angelique said...

I think the picture was fine, it's just the meaning behind it that it awful. The government should not be able to control what the media does or does not publish.

alessandralaura said...

I'm glad that the media is holding it's ground. If a photo is to be released, why not have it be taken by a photojournalist? The fact that the reason behind this is to not hurt China's "feelings" is ridiculous. That just goes to show how weak our confidence in our relationship with them is. Maybe the government should be more concerned with how to build that confidence instead of the media publishing friendly pictures.

Gillian Francella said...

This is a tough situation. I do not agree with censorship normally, but I think that it is a good idea to monitor images like this. An alliance with China is incredible crucial for the U.S. so if they think they need to monitor something because it's in the interest of the bigger picture, then I think it is okay.

Dan P. said...

I think it's pretty hypocritical for the AP to refuse to print the picture because the government didn't allow them to cover the event, but they saw nothing wrong with sitting in on the Tiger Woods press conference in which they weren't even allowed to ask questions. I'm sure the government has censored more meaningful things than a meeting between two men that I doubt has any influence on domestic or foreign policy. Get over yourselves, AP.

Brian Okum said...

I think it's reasonable that the White House is manipulating the situation, for the better, of course.

It's reasonable, it's tolerable. The situation reminds me of a group of middle schoolers, gossiping and complaining. The US is afraid China will bitch about Barack being bros with the Dalai. Yes, it is indeed an issue of great importance and of national interest, but that's exactly why the media and populous shouldn't be tolerating such childish and manipulative bullshit.

The Dalai Lama is the only one acting mature here. If I was him, I'd probably be insulted over the whole thing.

That's what's wrong with the situation. It is psuedo-censorship, and no, I'm glad the media made a point to not run it like it was their own.