Team Obama’s response to Dittygate only proves protesters’ point

I was going to write about it right after it happened, but I didn’t, but it’s back in the news again, so now I will.

On Thursday, April 21, the Obama administration was pretty fucking embarrassed when a short video of an incident at a fundraiser in San Francisco leaked out.

Obama wasn’t at the fundraiser to discuss anything controversial. He was there to collect his loot and go.* It was supposed to be a carefully controlled event — like one of “President” George W. Bush’s.** However, his fundraising spiel was interrupted by a group of protesters who started singing a little song about the Obama administration’s inhumane treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of illegally leaking information to WikiLeaks.

Their lyrics conclude thusly: “We paid our dues; where’s our change? We paid our dues; where’s our change?”

Yeah, that’s what millions of us whom the Obama administration has punk’d would love to know.

If you haven’t already watched it, you can watch the short video here.

In the video, Obama obviously is pissed off, but he has come this far in politics by pretending to be cool in all situations, no matter fucking what — he apparently calculated long ago (correctly, probably) that an “angry” black man never could be president of the United States (an angry white man like John McCainosaurus, who nearly had strokes from his fits of rage during his presidential debates with Obama, however, can be president).

Of course, I prefer honestly expressed feelings of anger over insincere bullshit that is a transparent effort to cover up one’s anger, which is what Obama demonstrates in the video. After the protesters sing their little ditty, he says, quite insincerely, “That was a nice song. You guys have much better voices that I have,” and even says “Thank you very much.”

“Thank you very much”?

These protesters infiltrated Obama’s swank fundraiser only to remind him that there are some of us who feel that we paid our dues but have yet to see the promised change. And the short video of the protest song went fairly viral.

The Obama administration’s only saving grace is that this incident didn’t really hit the national news until Friday, April 22, so the story didn’t become the national story that it otherwise would have had the incident happened earlier in the week.

The Obama administration should have let Dittygate go, but instead it apparently chose to start a fight with The San Francisco Chronicle — whose reporter got the video.

Reports The Associated Press:

San Francisco — The White House says a San Francisco Chronicle reporter broke the rules when she put down her pen and picked up a video camera to film a protest. The newspaper says the Obama administration needs to join the 21st century.

The conflict hit the newspaper’s front page [yesterday] with a story about coverage of the protest during President Barack Obama’s speech last week at a private fundraiser.

It highlights the perils that arise when traditional arrangements between news organizations and politicians meet the modern reality that anyone with a smartphone can become a video journalist.

Reporter Carla Marinucci had White House permission to cover the fundraiser as a so-called “pool” reporter, meaning she could attend as long as she shared her notes with the White House to distribute to other reporters. Pool reporting is a common arrangement among media organizations and in-demand politicians to avoid overcrowding of smaller events.

Marinucci was covering the event when about a half-dozen protesters who paid a combined $76,000 to attend the breakfast broke into a song chastising Obama for the government’s treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website.

“We paid our dues; where’s our change?” the protesters sang.

Although a print reporter, Marinucci is seldom seen without a small video recorder while covering politicians. She captured video of the protest, which was posted with her written story in the online edition of the Chronicle and on its politics blog.

White House officials say that breached the terms of her access, which stated Marinucci was to provide a print-only report.

“The San Francisco Chronicle violated the coverage rules that they — and every other media outlet — agreed to as part of joining the press pool for that event,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “If they thought the rules were too restrictive they should have raised that at the beginning.” [Yeah, so their reporter could have been tossed out, right?]

Editor Ward Bushee said in the Chronicle’s story [yesterday] that the paper acted within its rights to cover the newsworthy incident.

He also said White House officials in off-the-record conversations Thursday threatened to bar Marinucci from pool coverage of future presidential appearances. He added that the officials, whom Bushee did not name, threatened to freeze out Chronicle and other Hearst Newspaper chain reporters if they reported on the threat against Marinucci. [Emphasis mine.]

“We expect our reporters to use the reporting tools they have to cover the news, and Carla did,” Bushee said in the Chronicle story. The White House rule against print reporters shooting and posting video is “objectionable and just is not in sync with how reporters are doing their jobs these days,” he said.

After Josh Earnest, another White House spokesman, told the Politico website that officials had not made such threats, Carney said in a statement [yesterday] that “no reporters have been banned from covering future presidential events.”

“The White House of course would have no problem including any reporter who follows the rules in pool-only events,” he said.

The White House should rethink those rules in an era when few reporters limit their coverage to just one medium, and when several other attendees not with the media were taking their own video of the protest, Bushee said. The protesters’ own footage ended up appearing on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The fundraiser came a day after Obama appeared at the Palo Alto headquarters of Facebook, praising the social media giant for enabling a more open, two-way conversation between citizens and politicians. The president said he was interested in holding the event, billed as a social media town hall, because young people especially were now getting their information through a range of different media. [Emphasis mine.]

Dan Gillmor, a media critic and head of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, said the White House needs to update the rules for its pool reports to match the realities of 21st-century reporting. …

It’s not really that, that Team Obama is composed of a bunch of luddites. It’s that the Chronicle had the audacity to embarrass The Great Obama of Oz. The Chronicle pulled back the curtain to reveal the petty, vindictive, insincere little man behind the curtain. The Chronicle, with the video, showed us something that we never were supposed to see.

A mere written description of the protest at the fundraiser wouldn’t have fully captured it, and while a mere written account of an event can fairly easily be disputed, a videorecorded account cannot so easily be disputed — which is why the “transparent” Team Obama maintains that only written descriptions are allowed: to avoid embarrassment and poor P.R., not because they don’t understand today’s communications technologies, which they fully exploit in their record-level fundraising, for fuck’s sake.

Ironically, in its response to Dittygate, Team Obama has only strengthened the protesters’ charge, “We paid our dues; where’s our change?” Yes, one of the many things that Barack Obama promised but has yet to deliver is a more transparent presidency.

Instead, we’re seeing more of the same, with Team Obama threatening to punish the Chronicle — and indeed, its entire parent company — because one of its employees actually made something transparent. (I believe the Chronicle over Team Obama, hands down, by the way; I believe that Team Obama threatened to exclude the reporter from future events and then threatened to exclude the entire media organization if their threat to the reporter were made public.)

And Team Obama can’t blame the Chronicle for embarrassing Obama.

It’s not the Chronicle’s fault that Obama has reneged on so many of his campaign promises to the point that protesters paid more than $75,000 to crash his exclusive little cash ’n’ carry. The fault for that lies squarely in the lap of Obama.

Barack Obama embarrasses himself.

*I know that this is how it is with the Clintonistas, the DINOs, such as Barack Obama.

Back in the day I coordinated Meetups for John Kerry’s run for the White House. (Howard Dean was the favorite of the “netroots,” but I viewed Kerry as much more likely to be able to deny George W. Bush a second term.) When I coordinated the monthly Meetups for several months, the participants talked about those issues that concerned them. They appreciated having such a forum with like-minded others.

But after it was clear that Kerry, who came back from political death like Lazarus, was going to win the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, a self-serving Democratic Party hack hijacked the Meetups and made them all about fundraising. She was in it for herself, even going so far as to tell the participants that when they donated money to the Kerry campaign, they needed to use a special code to designate the region when, in fact, it designated her as an individual fundraiser.

In a nutshell, under the hack’s “leadership,” the Meetups became fundraisers. Her contempt for others is what we see in the DINOs, who regard others only as ATMs.

Speaking of which, in my many months of helping out with Kerry-for-president efforts, I was quite disappointed by the Kerry fundraising events that we of the middle class, which the Democratic Party is supposed to be all about, cannot afford to attend. The Chronicle reports that “high-end” tickets to the Obama fundraiser at “the swank St. Regis Hotel” in San Francisco on April 21 “started at $5,000 and went up to $35,800.”

Another reason, probably, that cameras weren’t allowed…

**And Team Bush was fairly good at making sure that only loyal fans ever made it inside any of Bush’s appearances, but perhaps because he wasn’t on his own home turf, Bush did have, late in his unelected rule, that Iraqi guy throw a pair of shoes at him…

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