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Robert Gibbs Fights For Press Freedom (To Access Photo Op)

Nov 8, 2010

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Reported by

Frank James

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, had to get a little Ugly American with an Indian security official who tried to block several U.S. media members traveling with President Obama, from observing a photo op between the American leader and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Indians wanted to reduce the number of U.S. reporters allowed inside the room with the leaders to five from eight.

According to the U.S. reporter who witnessed Gibbs' fight on behalf of what is being called the "White House 8" said the press secretary, at one point, literally had his foot in the door as the Indian security official tried hard to close it.

Gibbs angrily asked if the official was trying to break his foot.

It was only after Gibbs threatened to pull Obama from the meeting did the Indian officials relent. (This is not the first time Gibbs has made such a threat on a foreign trip.)

Considering what happened next, you really have to wonder what all the fuss was about. The subset of White House press corps known as the traveling pool, was ushered into the room where the two leaders were meeting.

Obama and Singh smiled but made no statements. Then after a minute the media members were ushered out, according to the pool report.

But it was really the principle of access for the U.S. media pool that Gibbs was standing up for.

Something similar happened in Copenhagen when Chinese officials tried to bar the U.S. media from a similar bilateral meeting between Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabiao.

That time, however, Gibbs didn't get his foot smashed.

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