CBS White House Radio Correspondent Mark Knoller took to Twitter tonight to express his angst about Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner. The famous event has never allowed cameras in. It is, however, on the record. This year’s dinner is ruffling more feathers than usual amongst some journalists. President Obama is among the featured speakers, and those like Knoller believe all types of journalists ought to be allowed in. USA TODAY Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, this year’s president, stated repeatedly this week that the sentiment behind the rule is that not allowing cameras, blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking helps “respect the history and tradition of the 126-year-old event.” Once the dinner is over, she has maintained, any of the many journalists who attend can write what they please.
Knoller feels otherwise. As does C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb, who sent a letter to Page this week. As does ex-MSNBCer David Shuster, who attempted to dress down Page on Twitter, saying, “The distinction is illogical and beneath you, Susan.” He was referring to the distinction between TV and print.
Knoller’s remarks from earlier tonight:
“This weekend: Pres. Obama attends the Gridiron Dinner, one of the annual press banquets, but one that doesn’t allow full press coverage. // Members and guests at the dinner can report on the proceedings, but the Gridiron won’t allow TV news coverage, not even C-Span. // C-SPAN is the straightest arrow in the journalistic quiver & just wants to cover the Gridiron event, but is barred from doing so. // It puts members of the Gridiron in the indefensible position of staging a presidential event, but barring full press coverage. // There are great reporters among Gridiron’s members, journalists I respect, but they know better than to block presidential coverage. // We in the media rightfully object when the White House or a political committee bar full press coverage of a presidential appearance. // Two instances over the past 2 weeks: TV news coverage was barred at DSCC and DCCC fundraisers addressed by Pres Obama. // Reporters shouldn’t be the ones blocking full news coverage.”