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Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Vietor’

WHCA Complains: Press Shut Out at White House

After being shut out of the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday,  the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) is appealing to the White House to give the press corps access to an event that’s been called one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year – the signing of the START Treaty.  In a letter to Press Sec. Robert Gibbs, the WHCA Board complained about their lack of access to the President throughout the crisis in Egypt and outlined their request to open today’s treaty signing to the White House pool.   Letter from Julia Whiston of the WHCA below:

Good morning Robert,

We recognize that the crisis in Egypt is a quickly evolving story and you are working to get us the information we need in a timely manner, but we are concerned about several access issues on Tuesday and now today.

On behalf of the White House Correspondents Association we are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the White House’s decision to close the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and his signing of the START Treaty today to the full press pool.

The START treaty was held up as one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year dating back to the trip to Prague last spring. We are concerned that now his signing of it is open to still photographers but closed to editorial, including print and wire reporters and television cameras.

We know the President came out late last night to speak on Egypt, and we appreciate the email updates from NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, but his emails have not gone to all members of the press corps and are not a substitute for access to the Press Secretary or the President.

Prior to the President’s statement Tuesday night, the press corps had not received a substantive update from the White House all day on the situation in Egypt. In addition, the press corps did not have an on-camera briefing, or an off-camera gaggle, with you yesterday to ask the White House about its decision-making process during this major foreign policy crisis. Now for two straight days the full press pool is being shut out of events that have typically been open and provided opportunities try to ask the President a question.

These issues are vitally important for all of our members – print, TV and radio.

We value our working relationship, and we hope you will reconsider and at least open the START Treaty signing to the full pool.

Thank you for your consideration,

The WHCA Board

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Ronnie Cho Bares (Almost) All at HBO Screening of “By the People”

“By the People” may be a documentary on the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, but the real break-out star of last night’s HBO premiere is Ronnie Cho.

DC media types like Chris Matthews, Candy Crowley and Richard Wolffe, and Team Obama- David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe- all make frequent appearances, but Cho, the former campaign staffer turned admin staffer, was filmed working early morning hours in his boxer shorts. Now that is dedication. He tells FBDC, “I did it for him, I did it for America.”

The film is by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams and produced in part by actors Edward Norton and Tate Donovan, who were both at last night’s DC screening.

“We always hoped to get the opportunity to show it,” Norton said in comments after the film aired. “I look around the room and think this is our government now,” he said to laughter.

It was standing room only at the Park at Fourteenth– the White House’s Tommy Vietor, Jon Favreau and Obama’s Iowa political director Mike Blake were there, as well as NYT‘s Jeff Zeleny and Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet, who were all featured in the HBO documentary.

“Shower scene is coming up,” Vietor joked, maybe one too many times. “That line is getting old” was friends’ response.

Photos continue after the jump…

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FishPoolDC: Our Insider’s Notes from Today’s Press Briefing

Notes from a briefing room press insider…

“Call Tommy on Saturday.”: With the WH announcement that POTUS will, in fact, jet to Copenhagen later Thursday to push for his hometown’s 2016 Olympic bid, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had some splainin’ to do about what has changed since Obama had said FLOTUS would lead the pitch. “The president believes health care is in better shape,” RG said in response to citations of POTUS’s original stay-at-home reasoning. But POTUS was also personally enthusiastic about the Denmark jaunt, Gibbs said, while adding that it was “silly” to think POTUS wouldn’t fight for any other U.S. city with an Olympic bid. Further trip questions were deflected to press aide Tommy Vietor in what became a Gibbsian refrain: “Call Tommy on Saturday” (after the IOC’s decision). Dodging a specific question on health care later on, RG jokingly advised: “Call Tommy.”

Tehran Tango: The news out of Tehran that the regime has launched a few missiles, in the style of fellow bad-kid-in-class North Korea, has put a new twist on the drama of this week’s P5+1 meeting on Iranian denuclearization. While identifying the act as a “preplanned” exercise more than once, Gibbs also called the regime “provocative” and said it validated the Obama team’s recent missile defense decisions. “We’re focused on Thursday,” he said, declining to elaborate on sanctions speculation. Foreign policy critics are watching sanctions developments with skepticism about Russian and Chinese cooperation, but Gibbs was on offense: “A few weeks ago no one ever thought we’d be where we are right now,” he said, citing the two countries’ statements on the Iranian nuclear plant revelation as real progress.

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