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White House Gets Video?

After years of complaining about the dilapidated state of the White House press briefing room, ”media experts” are now complaining about the administration’s plans to make the briefing room cooler:

Media experts say graphics and charts could reinforce the White House’s message at briefings. A video wall also could diminish the role of reporters as questioners. For example, remote briefers might sometimes appear on home TV screens to talk past the reporters in the room, and address the public directly. That already happens with some video feeds, such as when a colonel in Ramadi, Iraq, led off a recent Pentagon briefing by saying, “I’m always happy for the opportunity to tell Americans what a great job their sons and daughters are doing for all Americans over here.” Pentagon news briefings also frequently find their way onto cable TV.

“Putting a video wall in the White House allows any administration to shape almost any story much more directly,” said Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN foreign-affairs reporter who now is a professor of communications at the University of Delaware. It’s “an extension of the idea that the government wants to speak directly to the public with a voice that’s very carefully crafted, without room for the analysis or critiques or amalgamations of fact that reporters routinely bring.”

I’m not sure how putting a video wall in the White House briefing room translates into an attempt to squeeze out analysis, critiques, or even fact amalgamations.

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