President Obama’s ill-timed West Coast fundraising tour is experiencing backlash not only for the bad optics during a time of national and international turmoil, it’s also stirring up outrage among journalists as, yet again, the president is locking out the press.
Obama traveled to the West Coast for three days to meet with key donors from two of the largest Democratic super PACs, but so far he’s essentially shutting out the press:
Tuesday, the reporters and photographers traveling with the president on Air Force One and in his motorcade were left on the gravel path not even within sight of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs where Obama sat for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser with a $25,000 entrance fee.
Wednesday morning, when he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, they weren’t even told what room or floor he was on.
The new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Christi Parsons, pushed back against the media shutout, arguing for the importance of transparency in the president's fundraising efforts. “We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature," said Parsons. "Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.”
Parsons is certainly not the first member of the press to argue for greater access to the president, but as Politico notes, the “constant complaints” from the press are falling on deaf ears:
Despite constant complaints from the press corps and promises from White House officials, access to the president continues to be limited. The constantly repeated line that they’re running the “most transparent administration in history” tends to prompt snickers. Halfway through Obama’s West Coast swing, it’s tipping toward outrage.
The growing outrage comes after years of media shutouts and revelations of the administration only revealing important information after the fact. WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest also stirred the hornets nest Monday when he hypocritically criticized the press for using anonymous sources.