Wednesday, May 4, 2011
White House ‘demanded small California newspaper remove unflattering remark about First Lady’
A small weekly paper in California claims that the White House asked it to remove a sentence from a benign feature about Marine One because it reflected badly on the First Lady.
A reporter from the Pleasanton Weekly, which only has a circulation of 18,000, claims she received a call from a White House official asking her to remove an unflattering line about Mrs Obama.
The allegation comes days after the White House was accused of lying in a sensational row over a banned San Francisco Chronicle journalist.
Pleasanton Weekly reporter Amory Gutierrez wrote an article about the President’s helicopter when Mr Obama made a visit to California to speak at the headquarters of Facebook.
But Miss Gutierrez claims the White House took offence when it saw she had written that the First Lady had not spoken to the helicopter’s pilots.
An official told the reporter to remove the line as well as some details about the helicopter that were seen as a potential security risk.
Editor Gina Channell-Allen told the Daily Caller that her paper ‘received a call from the White House asking us to take out part of the story because it reflected poorly on the First Lady.’
‘Basically the reporter said that the First Lady didn’t speak to the pilots but acknowledged them by making eye contact,’ she said.
Ms Channell-Allen said that she ‘complied’ with the White House’s request ‘because it was not worth making a fuss over.’
But added: ‘I thought it was interesting, though, that the [White House] was concerned enough about image to contact a little weekly paper in Pleasanton.’
The First Lady’s press secretary has denied that the White House made the order to the paper.
Katie McCormick Lelyveld, told the Daily Caller: ‘Our office has never interacted with the Pleasanton paper and not knowing the story existed, we never asked for such a line to be removed.’
The dispute comes after the San Francisco Chronicle accused the White House of lying about a disagreement with one of its reporters.
The White House denied that it had threatened to ban one its journalists from events after she used her video phone to film protesters at an Obama fundraiser.
But the paper stood by its version of events and said the White House was not being ‘truthful’.