WHCA Vs WHCO: White House Correspondents Blast The White House Over Heavy-Handed Media Memo

February 19, 2024 in News by RBN Staff

source:  zerohedge


SUNDAY, FEB 18, 2024 – 08:00 PM

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We have previously discussed the increasingly aggressive role of the White House Counsel’s Office (WHCO) in defending President Joe Biden, including spreading disinformation about various investigations. WHCO spokesman Ian Sams has taken the lead in attacking critics and denying facts related to corruption and other allegations.

Now, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) is blasting a memo in which the WHCO instructs reporters on how to cover the recent Hur report and allegations of the President’s diminished faculties.

Sams is not a lawyer. He is a political operative who has worked extensively for Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee, including a stint with Hillary Clinton. He was recently accused by the former head of the WHCA (and my former student) Jon Decker of giving false statements concerning the Special Counsel’s report.

There have been previous controversies over instructions given to the media by the White House. While the media has often been accused of maintaining a largely unified front protecting the President, actual memos directing their responses insulted many in the media. That is just not how this is done. You have to maintain certain proprieties and appearances.

Indeed, when the President recently snapped at a reporter by saying “that is not the judgment of the press,” it seemed to say the quiet part out loud in the ability of the White House to dictate coverage.

The most recent controversy came after Sams sent another letter with media instructions. Sams lays out how the report should be spinned in the media, putting in writing what is often conveyed in “background” chats with reporters.

It proved too much for WHCA president Kelly O’Donnell who called it “misdirected.” She added that “[a]s a non-profit organization that advocates for its members in their efforts to cover the presidency, the WHCA does not, cannot, and will not serve as a repository for the government’s views of what’s in the news.”

In my testimony at the Biden impeachment hearing, I raised the role of Sams and the White House staff in advocating for the President:

”To the extent that the President has used White House staff to maintain false claims or resist disclosures, it can fit into the type of Nixonian abuse of power model.”

The WHCO has long distinguished between the interests of a president and the presidency. Biden has his own personal counsel to oppose these allegations. That separation has now collapsed under White House Counsel Ed Siskel, who appears to approve of this advocacy role as Sams routinely lashes out at critics and investigators.

As noted in a recent columnSams’s work is precariously close to the line drawn in past impeachments. Indeed, he may have already crossed over in the effort to swat back investigations into corruption allegations. Sams’s effort to spin out of these scandals could easily end up spinning the White House into an actual impeachment.