A complaint by the Boston Herald about the limited access its staff would have to President Obama during his visit to Boston today prompted an Obama aide to fault the paper for its coverage of an Obama visit to Boston in March.
On that day, the Herald devoted its front page to an opinion article by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, in which he criticized the administration's job-creation record.
"I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president's visits,'' White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told the Herald in an email.
But the Herald also reported that Lehrich said the paper had not been purposely limited in its access to the president, only denied a chance to serve in a traveling "pool" of reporters. The Herald was not blocked from attending Obama's speech at the Cyclorama in the South End along with the rest of the Boston-area media.
In a call today to WBZ-AM, Romney said: "The media needs to be truthful and interesting and the Herald is both of those things. And for the White House to deny the Herald access to an official presidential visit absolutely makes no sense at all and really violates the spirit of the First Amendment. I think itís embarrassing for the White House to have taken a retribution type of act against a leading journal such as the Boston Herald."
He added: "The White House, and the president in particular, they are extraordinarily sensitive when anyone points out that Americaís economy three years after the president took office is still not generating the kind of jobs it needs to have and so they lash out at the media who basically tell people the truth."
A Globe reporter got the chance to serve in the local media pool for Obama's Massachusetts events after arranging for a seat on Air Force One throughout the president's trip today to New London, Ct., and Boston and Brookline.
Agence France-Press, which regularly travels with the president, agreed to give up its seat. The Globe assumed AFP's normal travel costs.
As the local pool reporter, the Globe's Donovan Slack will be responsible for sharing material from limited-access events with other print reporters, including those from the Herald.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.