Obama’s Controlled Jump Shot

So it appears the newbies in the White House press operation have discovered the lowly VNR. This much-maligned means for managing the message for TV news consumption and regurgitation has reared its ugly head according to ABC’s Jake Tapper and now, TV Newser.

The packaged piece in question features a relatively innocuous White House visit by the UConn Varsity Women’s Basketball Team. Rather than asking for pool coverage from one of the TV news operations, the White House set out to produce and distribute its own (and the only) video record of the portion of the meet-up that everyone pined to see – the Obama shoot-around with the team. From the pool report of the incident:

“The pool was held back from the stroll down the drive and around the corner, and couldn’t see the court. Poolers could hear periodic cheering coming from the other side of the bushes.”

“Now we all know why,” Tapper writes. “Obama White House officials decided to do their own media report on the visit, complete with cuts, interviews and chryons identifying who’s speaking.”

Now we all remember the kerfuffle a couple of years back when the Bushies used fake TV reporters to advance its policy objectives. It even prompted a Congressional hearing where famed VNR company chiefs Larry Moscowitz and Doug Simon, and others, were summoned (or did they volunteered?) to defend the long-standing PR practice. I kind of remember PR Watch also playing a role in drumming up the frenzy over these so-called faux reports.

But unlike the previous administration’s nefarious use of this tactic to advance its many ill-conceived and quite consequential (and controversial) policies, it seems rather silly to complain about receiving hand-out footage of the 6 ft. 2-inch Forward-in-Chief sinking a jumper from the top of the key.

Tapper concludes:

“Is the goal to ultimately replace the pesky photographers who film what they want to and not what they’re told to (not to mention the annoying reporters who ask uncomfortable questions about, say, detainee policy and bank bailouts)?

Do you want your OTV? (I’ll bet there are a few takers out there.)”

Next time, I would only advise the White House PR team to forget the chyrons and just make the raw footage with nat. sound available. Also, be sure to clearly identify the source!

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