White House ends staged photo-op reenactments

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Associated Press reports that the White House has decided to end a long-time practice of having presidents re-enact high-profile televised speeches for news photographers after the addresses have been delivered.

The arrangement with the news media, used by presidents for decades, drew cries of staging and fakery when President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1.

After that announcement, AP reported, “five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech — a practice that news organizations have protested for years.”

The AP and other news outlets noted in captions with the photos they offered for distribution that they were taken after the president had delivered his address. But, AP notes, “many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event.”

“We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said late on May 11. He said the administration was open to devising some new arrangement with photographers.

Noting the White House decision, Politico quoted First Amendment Center President Ken Paulson as saying: “Leveling with the American people is always a good thing. It is important that the public be able to trust the news media.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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