On Tuesday, it was apparently huge news that NBC's Jenna Bush Hager was at the White House to interview President Obama on the occasion of daughter Sasha Obama's 13th birthday; such big news that Bush Hager's handlers tried to go all KGB on The Daily Banter's humble White House reporter in order to protect the scoop. I wasn't trying to pull a TMZ, I was merely shooting in an open area of the White House grounds because I wanted to film a video tour of a day at the White House to give our readers an idea of what a typical day on the job is like. It should be noted that this is my job.
As it happened, there was crew was shooting B-roll of Jenna Bush Hager walking down the drive, later to be inserted in the final edit of her interview with President Obama. It's a kind of fascinating look into the process, and artifice, of television news, but it ain't Watergate. I was, once again, genuinely confused as to why anyone would wonder, or care, why I was filming in yet another area that's open to the press when Jenna's handlers decided to become the second people that day to appoint themselves Ministers of Information. Here's how that went:
That was Huffington Post UK's Jon-Christopher Bua wandering into the fracas with the assist, and I'm sure he would agree: Sorry, jerk-offs, you don't get to come visit the beat I've been working for five-and-a-half years and ask me who the fuck I'm with, or tell me what I can or can't film.
And just in case you're wondering whether I did anything that would justify such a reaction, here are the preceding 40 seconds, during which I'm not bothering anyone.
Now, the right way for them to have handled that would have been to approach me and ask -- ask -- if I wouldn't mind not using that video, or holding it until they'd had a chance to promote their interview, neither of which I was obligated to do. After the video cut off, I told the suddenly-nice lady that I would, indeed, hold the video until after the interview was promoted, and one of the regular NBC White House guys later apologized, and patiently weathered a long, indignant rant.
The fact is, if they had never said a word to me, that clip would have been buried in the middle of my video tour, and probably would have been published at the end of this week. If not for the video tour, I might not have used it at all.
The choice, though, is and will always be mine. The same news organizations that bitch about a lack of transparency from the White House are also the worst offenders when it comes to shutting people out from reporting on them or trying to manage the reporting that does get done.
Get it straight, people: to the extent that anyone even cares about the mundane bullshit that I was shooting, it is my job, and my job alone, to decide what I'm going to shoot. If you don't like it, build your own White House and go shoot your B-roll there. This one belongs to the people.