ABC, CBS Reporters Protest WH Barring Cameras from Obama's Apollo 11 Event

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | July 22, 2014 | 3:32 PM EDT

ABC reporter Jonathan Karl was extremely skeptical of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's claim that the president was too "busy" to allow television cameras into an event honoring astronauts of Apollo 11: "Couldn't he have been maybe five minutes later for the fundraiser out in Seattle? He really couldn't accommodate a few minutes for open coverage of this?"

"Why the intense secrecy around this event?" Karl asked. "Why not allow television cameras into that?"

"It's merely a scheduling matter, John," Earnest said, "and the President needs to be on a plane at one o'clock this afternoon. So the President has a very busy schedule and we weren't able to accommodate cameras."

"I find that explanation extremely hard to believe, given that is such a small amount of time," Karl said. "Given that it's thirty eight seconds, maybe even a couple of minutes..."

"Is it because some of those Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, shortly before he died going to Congress, were very critical of this president for the way he has handled the space program," Karl rejoined. "In the words of Neil Armstrong, a very private person as you know, saying before Congress, that the president's canceling of the Constellation program was 'lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.' Is that why the president did not want to see television cameras in this photo op?"

"Absolutely not," Earnest said. "The president invited the crew members of Apollo 11 to the White House to honor their contribution to space exploration and to innovation in the field of science. It was an honor for the President to have them here today."

CBS reporter Major Garrett filed a formal complaint on behalf of the Correspondent's Association against the administration's decision to not allow cameras at the Apollo 11 event today. "The astronauts were among the most visible and televised national heroes this country has ever known. That entire program was financed by the American taxpayer....We believe that is a classic definition of something that should have the broadest press coverage imaginable, and we are therefore launching a complaint against your decision to kick us out."

Editor's Update: Now, the White House Correspondents' Association is upset that the White House barred the press from two West Coast meetings with donors.