On July 24, Vice President Joe Biden took questions from the White House press during a phone conference call, but the White House told reporters they would not be allowed to use Twitter to live-report the VP’s remarks.
Politico reported that the Obama administration banned reporters from Tweeting Biden’s comments as he made them, telling them that they’d only be allowed to report the on-the-record comments once the call was concluded.
What was the justification for clamping down on reporter’s freedom to Tweet?
From White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, via email: “The embargo will allow journalists to hear the entirety of the Vice President’s remarks and get the benefit of having their questions answered — before trying to condense a 30-minute conference call about a 20-page NEC report into a 140 characters.”
One might suggest that there was another reason for this Tweet ban. More likely the White House wanted to prevent live, instantaneous reporting of Biden’s comments via Twitter so that they could come up with a walk-back or an excuse for whatever Biden gaffe was made during the call. Biden is well-known as a gaffe machine and it is likely that the White House wanted time to get ahead of any possible flubs, but if reporters were live Tweeting it the White House would have less time to invent the excuses for Sheriff Joe’s bungles.
It’s called managing the message.