The same reaction that I had.
When I saw this photograph, published by official White House lightstalker Pete Souza, I was immediately struck by how ham-handed Obama looked, particularly in contrast to the apparently taken-aback Dalai Lama. What does it say about the competence of this White House if this is the kind of photo that they think is representative enough of this meeting to release it to the press?
Says the AP on their official Facebook page:
"AP Photo Advisory: The AP will not be distributing an official White House photograph of today’s meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama. The AP declines to accept or use handout photos when we feel access would have been possible by the media, either as a group or through a pool photo arrangement."
In our constant striving for media access, we often encounter cases where access is denied and handout photos are offered. That’s the visual equivalent of being fed a completed news story by PR firm or official as opposed to reporting it ourselves.
We won't accept or use handout photos if we feel access would have been possible by the media, either as a group or through a pool photo arrangement. This position is particularly important to us when covering government activities in democratic nations where we believe an independent view is important.
One is reminded that the AP routinely carries abject propaganda handouts on a daily basis from freedom-loving regimes such as Iran, but wouldn't you guess it, they have an answer for that, too:
True, we often accept handout photos from governments or states where media freedoms are not as developed as they are in most democracies. Ignoring those handout photos would deprive our readers and viewers of a unique source of information.
A "unique source of information" that just happens to be available for free to the rest of the Internet? I'm not buying that explanation... but I do have a trick up my sleeve that just might be related to it, so I'm going to let it slide for now.
Anyway, the only other thing I'd say about this whole fiasco is that dark times must truly be coming to the Administration, if even their strongest supporters have stopped carrying their water.
[ Flickr Link ]
President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Feb. 18, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)