Blog Post

Censor-in-Chief Strikes Again

Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler says that the Obama campaign is censoring viewer comments about their new 17-minute documentary, The Road We've Traveled, with positive comments outnumbering negative by more than five to one.

Writing on The White House Dossier blog, Koffler says he tried himself to log a neutral comment on the documentary and was told it couldn't be posted because it was "awaiting moderation." The same comment submitted to A Love Story, a documentary by Anne Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was immediately accepted and posted.

"As of 9 am ET this morning, 84 of the last 100 comments could be construed as supportive, while 16 were negative," Koffler wrote on March 21.

"Many of the negative comments are benign," but the positive comments are absolutely glowing.

"The positive comments were sometimes ecstatic in their support for Obama and the largely hagiographic video, which went up on YouTube March 15. Among the tributes are 'My President is an amazing human being,' 'Truly one of the greatest President’s ever,' 'So majestic,'  and 'Thank God we have presidents like this'.”

In addition to Koffler's own experience, several Dossier readers complained that attempts to place negative comments about the video had failed.

For a president who promised the most transparent presidency in history, it certainly hasn't panned out that way. Obama's communications people have gone to great and sometimes scandalous lengths to control the message and protect the president's image.

For instance, last spring the White House made headlines when it refused to allow The Boston Herald access to full coverage an Obama fund-raising event because the paper ran an op-ed by Mitt Romney on its front page.

In addition to snubbing Fox News early in the president's term, White House censors also clashed last spring with a small California newspaper, the Pleasanton Weekly, for writing a story about the First Lady that made her appear too snooty.

This incident followed a major dust-up with the San Francisco Chronicle over threats made by Obama staffers to ban one of their reporters from participating in the White House pool after she used a cell phone to record a protest against President Obama at a San Francisco fundraiser.  Not only did the White House threaten her, they also forbad her from discussing the incident, an order with which she did not comply.

That they abhor being questioned about their propensity toward censorship was obvious in a July 1, 2009 press briefing in which CBS reporter Chip Reid confronted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about why the most transparent administration in history was so tightly orchestrating its town halls and allowing only friendly people to attend with no sticky questions allowed. Gibbs was unable to answer the question. Not long afterward, the exchange was suspiciously scrubbed from the Youtube press briefing playlist.

While there's not much the American public can do about this bad habit, the media is certainly within their rights to report on these incidents  and let the people know that Obama's definition of transparency is more like what the rest of us call ambiguity.

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