Amidst a debate about White House control over pool reporters who have to get approval before submitting their stories, the Obama administration has been caught doctoring the transcript of remarks made by President Obama during a DNC fundraiser.
The official White House transcript of the speech significantly amends the following passage;
“One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills (laughter) — I think eventually they got paid – but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”
The version that appeared in the official transcript excised the part relating to unpaid bills to read, “there’s still junk on my desk, including some – newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”
The White House later claimed that the words did not appear in the transcript because the stenographer did not hear the omitted phrase. The transcript was subsequently amended with the word “inaudible” in place of the missing phrase.
As veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler notes, “Somehow, it wasn’t inaudible to the White House pool reporters, who picked up on the discrepancy between what was said and what was in the transcript.”
Koffler charges that the administration is outstripping even the Bush White House for propaganda on this front, accusing them of “effectively lying to the American people.”
The controversy arrives amidst an ongoing altercation between White House pool reporters and the Obama administration over freedom of the press.
Under the current system, the White House is able to demand changes to pool reports before distributing them to news outlets, federal agencies, and congressional offices.
The Obama administration has on numerous occasions asked the reports to be changed, prompting the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) to set up a replacement distribution model which is now gaining traction and threatens to derail the Obama administration’s control over pool reports.