I posted a video earlier today that I took outside the White House of six military veterans handcuffing themselves to the White House gates to protest the President’s inaction on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” In it, you’ll see members of the mainstream media, from various big name publications and networks, being told to stop covering a DADT protest in front of the White House because, remarkably, “the park was closed.”
Ben Smith at Politico watched the video and wrote the following:
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
People who have covered the White House for years tell me that’s an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.
A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”
Which begs the question: Why did the White House do this?
For safety reasons? I don’t think so. Last time GetEqual staged a handcuffing at the White House there was a crowd of 200 or so people chanting. Rather than scare them off, the security let them stay there a good hour, eventually moving them across the street to the same location we were at today when we were kicked out. This time, there were only a handful of protesters, and 100 or so tourists and businesspeople, and reporters. For some reason, this crowd was perceived as more of a threat than the previous crowd, so they shut down the park and kicked out the media. The only variable that was different, other than the fact that there were far fewer protesters, is that this time we had lots of media.
So the question remains: Did the Obama White House censor the media today in order to try to kill a story about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? It looks as though they did. By the time the reporters were finally let in, security had already taken 3 of the handcuffed vets away. Mission accomplished.
Oh, and someone raised the question in the comments as to whether the White House or the police did this. Same thing. We know from the last protest that the White House is intimately aware of what is taking place. There is simply no way that they weren’t in the loop on what was done to the media today. And in any case, when reporters are forced to leave the Obama White House, forced to stop covering a political event, the Obama White House is responsible, period.