Citing rules governing "pen and pad" newspaper reporters, the White House has punished San Francisco Chronicle
reporter Carla Marinucci
for using a video camera during a DNC fundraiser last week, effectively banishing her
from having full access to President Obama, the San Francisco Chronicle
reported on Thursday.
The video featured a group of Democratic protesters singing "we paid our dues, where's our change" in a criticism of the president's first two years in office. The protest was particularly embarrassing as it happened at a $38,000-per-seat Democratic fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, while President Obama stood on the stage and waited for them to finish their song.
"Now, there's an example of creativity that we saw during the campaign," Obama said in reaction to the protest song, International Business Times reported
. "You know, it wasn't always convenient but it's part of what made 2008 special. And what's happened -- and I think that was indicative of that performance as well -- is, is that over the last two and a half years, change turned out to be tougher than a lot of us expected. Right?"
Carla Maranucci covered the event as a "print pool" reporter. She was removed from this pool after her video footage circulated widely on the internet. The White House cited rules governing "print pool" reporters and said Maranucci had broken those rules, however the San Francisco Chronicle
reported "more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla's spanking became public. Really? That's a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free."
"Pool reports must be filed before any online story or blog," White House Press Correspondents' Association rules state. Yet the guidelines also state: "Print poolers can snap pictures or take video. They are not obliged to share these pictures...but can make them available if they so choose."
The White House appeared to be punishing Maranucci at its own discretion.
"We've come full circle here," Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism told the San Francisco Chronicle
. "A newspaper reporter is being punished because she took pictures with a moving camera. We live in a world where there are no longer distinctions. The White House is trying to live by 20th century distinctions."