This seems like myopic behavior by the Obama campaign.
At the coming out party for the Democratic nominee — the past week’s Obama-fest in Denver — the campaign declined to give clearance to foreign television media to report live from the floor of the convention. This is like having the Olympics, and making the television cameras report from outside the water cube.
Can this be true? Barack Obama, who has pledged to change the perception in the world that America is arrogant and isolationist, self-centered and smug, took the first opportunity to undercut his argument. At the moment when he had the attention of millions of Americans, he blew it with the rest of the world — and the rest of the world, by all accounts, is completely enamored of the man.
"I can’t really call what I’m doing journalism," complained Laura Haim, the correspondent for the French cable station Canal Plus, on CNN this morning from Denver. She was pretty angry, and understandably so. She said that foreign correspondents such as herself were allowed a half-hour on the convention floor per day, which was essentially useless, and could not broadcast live.
In media as in war zones, we American journalists are usually treated as well as we treat others, so don’t be surprised if there is some kind of retaliation in European circles.
This choice also makes me wonder if the decision to give access to dozens of bloggers at this year’s convention has crowded out the journalists who have access to millions, truly millions, of decision-makers overseas. Most of all, this sends a message directly at odds with Obama’s rhetoric.
This is not the first time that foreign journalists have complained about not having access to the candidate. In July, a German correspondent complained in an op-ed in The Washington Post that foreign journalists had not been allowed to interview Obama:
"This spring Obama allowed at least one foreign reporter on trips to Ohio and Texas. But as the campaign has progressed, access has become more difficult for foreign correspondents. E-mail inquiries get no reply, phone calls are not returned. My colleagues and I know: We are last in line. We don’t matter," wrote Christoph von Marschall, of the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel.
Funny enough, Haim wrote a letter to the Post to say that she had had an interview with Obama, but that she had not been credentialed to travel with him abroad or in the United States.