Category Archive 'White House Communications'

07 Jul 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work

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Accuracy in Media examines the scale of Barack Obama’s personal spin machine. It is larger than Bush’s, much more new media focused, and vastly more controlling.

Barack Obama’s White House is spending more than $80,000 a week to staff its old and new media offices. Add the price of speechwriters and the White House communications tab reaches nearly $100,000 a week, or nearly $5 million a year-and that is for salaries alone.

Based on the coverage the President has garnered so far, it is money well spent.

Accuracy In Media gathered the data from the White House’s annual salary report to Congress, which was released last week. AIM identified a total of 66 staffers with some connection to Obama’s messaging machine-press secretaries and assistants, communications directors, new media specialists, speechwriters, and the staff of the new Office of Public Engagement.

The latter group, which employs 13 people at a cost of $1,090,200 a year, organizes events like last week’s online healthcare forum in Virginia to take the White House’s message directly to the public. …

Obama’s Office of Public Engagement replaced the more traditional Office of Public Liaison. The mission is the same-to connect the public with the White House-but the techniques are different. Obama’s team has incorporated online video, blogs and other interactive elements, including tightly managed town halls, into the outreach mix.

Obama also quadrupled the size of the public liaison staff. According to the last Bush administration staff salary report, President Bush employed three people in his liaison office at a cost of $335,500. …

Bush’s dedicated new media team appears to have consisted of two people-a specialty media director who earned $84,000 a year and a website assistant who earned $34,000.

By contrast, Obama has the 11 employees in the Office of Public Engagement and another nine aides with titles such as new media director, new media creative director, deputy director of video and e-mail content/design lead. Those nine earn nearly $700,000 a year combined.

The White House irritated the press corps earlier this year when it prevented reporters from covering the President’s photo op with the national championship women’s basketball team from the University of Connecticut. Instead, Obama’s own media team produced a professional-style video report and released it several days after the event.

ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper wondered, “Do Obama White House officials think their media coverage isn’t flattering enough?”


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