The continued refusal of the White House to allow camera coverage of Obama events took another step backwards Tuesday, when TV coverage of the president’s meeting with the remaining Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, was blocked.
An irate Major Garrett told press secretary Josh Earnest at the daily briefing that he was lodging a formal complaint on behalf of the White House Press Corps, for Obama’s lack of cooperation.
On this 45th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, the CBS newsman said, “The astronauts were among the most visible, televised national heroes this country has ever known, that entire program was financed by the American taxpayer. Stills presentation of that limits television coverage of that event. We believe that is a classic definition of something that should have the broadest press coverage imaginable, and we are therefore lodging a complaint against your decision to keep us out.”
ABC reporter Jonathan Karl then laced into Earnest, asking, “Why the secrecy around this event? Why not allow television cameras into that?”
Earnest lamely replied that “it was merely a scheduling matter,” that the president had been to the Dutch embassy and was offering remarks at the EEOB (Eisenhower Executive Office Building) and had a plane to catch at one o’clock, which made him too busy to allow cameras.
Karl was having none of it and said, “Couldn’t he have been maybe five minutes later for the fundraiser out in Seattle? He really couldn’t accommodate a few minutes for open coverage of this?”
“Not this time, Jon” Earnest brusquely replied.
Karl would not take the snub lying down. “I find that explanation, frankly, a little hard to believe given this is such a small amount of time, he said. “Is it because some of those Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, shortly before he died going to Congress, was very critical of this president for the way he handled the space program…he was a very private person as you know, going before Congress and saying that ‘the president’s canceling of the Constellation program was lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable. Is that why the president did not want to see television cameras in this photo op?”
Earnest vigorously denied that, saying the president invited the astronauts to honor their contributions to space exploration and innovation in the field of science.
He concluded his response with the laughable remark, “The administration is proud of bringing the space program to the next level.”
The fractious relationship of the White House Press Corps with the Obama administration continues to deteriorate.
Watch the video clip here via YouTube.
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