NewsBusters' Tim Graham repeats a Gawker post claiming that, in Graham's words, "the White House press elite partied down with President Obama on ahem, Independence Day" in an off-the-record event that featured a performance by the Foo Fighters. Graham went on to tut-tut: "Even if you weren't a fan of Obama (or a fan of picnics, or the Foo Fighters), an ambitious reporter might take the tickets just to get some off-the-record schmoozing in with people they'd like to line up as sources. It would be nice to know which ones who daily pledge to uphold the 'people's right to know' attended and accepted the pledges of secrecy."
What Graham didn't mention is that President Bush did the very same thing. A 2006 New York Times article noted that "Mr. Bush holds an annual off-the-record barbecue with reporters during his summer vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Tex."
We searched the archives of NewsBusters and its parent organization, the Media Research Center, and couldn't find any mention of Bush's reporter barbecues, let alone evidence that Graham was similarly outraged by the "off-the-record schmoozing" going on there.
(Not that there was all that much of it going on at the Obama event: As Politico's Michael Calderone points out, most of the "White House press elite" weren't there because they were on their way to Moscow to cover Obama's trip to Russia, and the president himself left early.)
Did you hear the one about the White House press corps standing for President Obama and not for President Bush? This manufactured yarn has been spinning through YouTube and right-wing media circles for the past few days.
Still don't know what I'm talking about? Allow Huffington Post's Jason Linkins to bring you up to speed:
A YouTube clip purporting to demonstrate -- through press room etiquette -- that the White House Press Corps has a greater level of fundamental respect for President Barack Obama than his predecessor has been making its way around the internet. In the video, the viewer is offered a side-by-side comparison between Obama's interruption of last week's press briefing to announce David Souter's retirement and another instance in which President George W. Bush entered the briefing room. In the former, the press corps stand up. In the later they remain seated. Here, you can watch for yourself:
I was inclined to be skeptical of this claim, since a single moment between Bush and the press corps in an eight year Presidency does not paint an accurate picture of their relationship. As it turns out, the comparison is pretty unfair, and you can take the word of someone who should know -- CBS News' Mark Knoller:
It's a long-standing practice for reporters to rise when the president enters the East Room for a news conference, but that hasn't been the case in the briefing room.
I checked with two colleagues who served as senior wire service reporters during the Bush Presidency and who, in matters of press protocol, the rest of us followed.
"The briefing room is always a more informal place," says Steve Holland of Reuters.
But the principal reason reporters remained in their seats, he said, was not to block the shot of TV cameramen and still photographers in the back of the room who were trying to make a picture of the president's walk-in.
For those keeping track of the debunked Obama/media love-fest conspiracies, this is number 8,253. Not bad for a little over 100 days into the President's first term.
Asked on Fox & Friends about the "damage done" by having Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews anchor MSNBC's election coverage, the Media Research Center's Tim Graham responded, "Not only is the damage already done, the damage continues. I mean, not only are they keeping these people on for an hour a night, they're adding this lesbian Air America radio host, Rachel Maddow, on every night."