IHateTheMedia.com files Freedom of Information Act request seeking video of President’s latest teleprompter mishap

by editor on March 18, 2009


The White House normally rushes video of all the President’s speeches to the media. But they have not yet released video of last night’s teleprompter mishap in which the President mistakenly read the Irish Prime Minister’s speech and thanked himself for inviting himself to the White House.

As a result of the White House’s attempt to cover up Obama’s gaffe, IHateTheMedia.com is officially requesting a copy of the video through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the White House Office of Administration of the Executive Office of the President.

“We hope this action will force the White House to end its blatant cover-up and release the footage of the President’s faux pas,” a spokesman for IHateTheMedia.com said. “We know the liberal press would already be howling for congressional investigations if the Bush White House had delayed release of similar footage.”

“We didn’t want to take this action,” the spokesman continued, “but the Obama White House must learn that it is not above the law.”

Let’s see if this will force the White House to release the potentially embarrassing footage.

Check back at IHateTheMedia.com for the latest updates.

Here is the text of the FOIA letter:

— TEXT OF LETTER —

[personal names redacted]
IHateTheMedia.com
[address redacted]

March 18, 2009

FOIA Officer
Office of Administration
Executive Office of the President
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503


    FOIA REQUEST
    Fee benefit requested
    Fee waiver requested
    Expedited processing requested

Dear FOIA Officer:

Pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, we request access to and copies of the video of the joint address of President Barack Obama and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, March 17, 2009.

There were two parties held at the Executive Mansion on the night of March 17, 2009. Irish Prime Minister Cowen and President Obama spoke at both. We are requesting a copy of the videos of the portion of both events that show both President Obama and Prime Minister Cowen speaking. On one of these videos–we believe it to be the second event — President Obama spoke first, followed by the Prime Minister who began reading the same speech from the teleprompter that the President had just given. Cowen stopped and looked back at the president to say, “That’s your speech.” President Obama laughed and then returned to the podium and began delivering what seemed to be Cowen’s speech, with the reported result that he thanked himself for inviting himself to the White House.

We would like to receive the information in the following format: video (CD-ROM or tape.)

Through this request, we are gathering information on the video of this joint address that has not surfaced, and appears to be hidden from the public, that is of current interest to the public because Barack Obama is the president of the United States and he was speaking with our ally Prime Minister Brian Cowen. Americans should be able to watch the video of any event to which reporters are allowed access. This information is being sought on behalf of IHateTheMedia.com for dissemination to the general public. IHateTheMedia.com is a news and commentary website, with up to a dozen stories and thousands of readers a day.

Please waive any applicable fees. Release of the information is in the public interest because it will contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations and activities. The information will be made available to the public immediately upon acquisition, on the IHateTheMedia.com website.

If our request is denied in whole or part, we ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. We will also expect you to release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. We, of course, reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to deny a waiver of fees.

As we are making this request as a journalist and this information is of timely value, we would appreciate your communicating with us by telephone, rather than by mail, if you have questions regarding this request.

Please provide expedited processing of this request, which concerns a matter of urgency. As journalists, we are primarily engaged in disseminating information. The public has an urgent need for information about the joint address of President Obama and Prime Minister Cowan at the East Room of the Executive Mansion because quite simply, the video of all events to which the media has access should not withheld from the public. We certify that our statements concerning the need for expedited processing are true and correct to the best of our knowledge and belief.

We look forward to your reply within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

[signatures redacted]

[personal names redacted]
IHateTheMedia.com

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

DeeMac March 18, 2009 at 5:12 pm

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Awww, guys, you have a spokesman? Damn, and here I thought you guys were special, different, above the fray with no spin doctors. Just out there on the edge, taking on Goliath alone with just a sling shot and a smartass answer. On the other hand, I am disappointed that the job is already filled. Had I known there was an opening, I would have applied.

Dr B March 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

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Go for it! I’m positive there are many worse cover-ups than a teleprompter mishap, but this is a start!

sil March 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm

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its not on cspan?

ocmadam March 18, 2009 at 8:14 pm

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I think it is on Hannity tonight.

Z March 19, 2009 at 7:28 am

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Nobody’s shown it..they discuss it, and they quote it…but, all last night, I kept wondering “Where’s the VIDEO? They caught every inarticulate word of Bush’s” Man, is this amazing bias or what? Even for OUR media!

T Williams March 22, 2009 at 8:56 am

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Listen up my friends!

As of this comment, this story has 97 Digg’s. It’s almost at the point on
Digg where people will really take note of it and it will attain a life of its own and go crazy. People, DIGG! If everyone who agreed with this FOIA action took ten seconds if they have a Digg account or two minutes if they did not already, there would be thousands of Diggs already and the media might even take notice.

What’s your excuse? Don’t you have two minutes?

As for why I’m really backing it: it’s not that we want it to laugh at it, there are already enough bloopers from Obama and Biden for a lifetime of laughter. It’s just that I don’t like the idea of the president deciding that if there is a video of an event (that was not a national security issue, and btw that was covered by reporters) that he doesn’t like, that he can just decide to not release it.

So, click the Digg button at the top of this article. And bookmark it on your other social site as well.

Administrator March 22, 2009 at 8:59 am

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Thanks T Williams for your impassioned support.

Grace March 25, 2009 at 10:38 am

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We’re all aware by now that this wasn’t a gaffe, right?

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/toby_harnden/blog/2009/03/24/the_truth_about_barack_obamas_irish_teleprompter_gaffe

A “National Journal” reporter filed this pool report:

“Then it was Cowen’s turn, and he was in for a surprise. ‘We begin by welcoming today a strong friend of the United States,’ he said–then stopped in surprise as he realized he was reading President Obama’s speech off the teleprompter. ‘Why don’t these things work for me?’ he asked, as the crowd roared. ‘Thank you for having us. Who said these things were idiot-proof?’ Then he got his bearings and gave the same talk that he delivered in the East Room. When he ended, at 8:12, Obama stepped to the microphone and said, ‘First, I’d like to say thank you to President Obama…(much laughter). Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everybody.’ Then we were escorted out.”

The Telegraph reporter got an audio file off the NJ reporter as well, which backed up his report. And I’m sure when you get the FOIA video, you’ll find the same sequence of events.

But you might want to qualify your posting, given that there’s apparently an authoritative, published source out there that makes it clear the “mistake” was a joke.

Administrator March 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

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Grace, it very well may be the case. or it may not. No one knows for sure yet. But that’s not the point. The point is he won’t release the tape. Why? Especially if it will pu this issue to rest.

Grace March 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

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Why not try a different route and contact the NJ and ask for William Englund’s recording of the event? Or for that matter, just ask to speak to Englund about it directly. The FoIA takes time, and as there’s another source out there (actually, you could probably contact any of the pool reporters that day), why not use it?

It really depends on what your objective here is. If you’re looking to find out what happened at that event, then there are alternates available to the FoIA path. But if the point is to say “he won’t release the tape” — well, then you seem to be focusing exclusively on the FoIA and willfully ignoring that there are other resources that would serve the same purpose as the unreleased tape.

If the WH tape was the only record of this event, then you might have a point in demanding its release. But it should be patently obvious on audio file or from pool attendee’s reactions whether this was a gaffe or a joke.

Administrator March 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

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Grace would you be so kind as to point us to a link that has the audio. Surely, there would not be a conspiracy to keep it hidden, so it must be out there somewhere.

You asked what our objective is. I’ve already stated it. Why not ask what the objective of the White House is, in not releasing something that being wanted to be seen/heard, by people all over the internet? Why not ask that, Grace? And also ask, if reporters have a copy of the audio, and they understand people want to hear it, why not ask what their objective is in not releasing it? After all, I always hear that the reporters work for the people, right? To inform them, right?

aren192 March 25, 2009 at 3:34 pm

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So basically, you just want to ask leading questions about theories. You don’t actually want to get the facts — you’d prefer to puff up a bunch of conspiracy themes, rather than consider that FoIAs take more than a week to process, that the Telegraph report WAS a direct response to internet concerns, and that preparing and releasing audio might be more technically demanding than text.

Then again, seeing how much your site relies on this drummed-up nonsense (a countdown clock? Really?), I can understand your investment in making this into something bigger than it is. To actually admit that you’ve gone to red alert over something as silly as a joke would be pretty hard.

Administrator March 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm

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Preparing and releasing audio is not technically demanding. Ask any 12 year-old with a Youtube channel.

Grace 2 March 25, 2009 at 3:39 pm

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Guys, it’s pretty poor form to appear to be conducting an open dialog while actually pre-moderating replies from the person you’re talking with. Just a tip.

I don’t have a link to the audio; I assumed you were a quasi-journalistic outlet (as you’ve apparently got a spokesman), and so could look up the NJ’s Media Relations number (202-266-7329) and call it, and ask how you might get a copy of the pool audio. You could mention that you know Englund’s already emailed an audio clip out to another news outlet, so maybe he’d be willing to just forward that on to you. If that avenue’s unfruitful, you could go looking for other reporters who covered the pool. Maybe try to find a transcript.

You have to ask to get information, Admin; “reporters” have already investigated to the extent that they’re publishing items clarifying the situation, but if you need audio you’ll have to go and get it. I’m happy to believe the word of the Telegraph reporter, but as you are not, I encourage you to call the number I’ve provided (found on their website’s “contact” page) and un-conspiracy things.

Seriously. It’s your question, you want it answered, so go get the answer. Do some legwork.

aren192 March 25, 2009 at 3:41 pm

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Fascinating; tell me how it is that all replies under “Grace” are mysteriously vanished, while those under another handle get an instant response?

I don’t have a link to the audio; I assumed you were a quasi-journalistic outlet (as you’ve apparently got a spokesman), and so could look up the NJ’s Media Relations number (202-266-7329) and call it, and ask how you might get a copy of the pool audio. You could mention that you know Englund’s already emailed an audio clip out to another news outlet, so maybe he’d be willing to just forward that on to you. If that avenue’s unfruitful, you could go looking for other reporters who covered the pool. Maybe try to find a transcript.

You have to ask to get information, Admin; “reporters” have already investigated to the extent that they’re publishing items clarifying the situation, but if you need audio you’ll have to go and get it. I’m happy to believe the word of the Telegraph reporter, but as you are not, I encourage you to call the number I’ve provided (found on their website’s “contact” page) and un-conspiracy things.

Seriously. It’s your question, you want it answered, so go get the answer. Do some legwork.

Seriously March 25, 2009 at 3:46 pm

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Censorship is fun, guys.

I don’t have a link to the audio; I assumed you were a quasi-journalistic outlet (as you’ve apparently got a spokesman), and so could look up the NJ’s Media Relations number (202-266-7329) and call it, and ask how you might get a copy of the pool audio. You could mention that you know Englund’s already emailed an audio clip out to another news outlet, so maybe he’d be willing to just forward that on to you. If that avenue’s unfruitful, you could go looking for other reporters who covered the pool. Maybe try to find a transcript.

You have to ask to get information, Admin; “reporters” have already investigated to the extent that they’re publishing items clarifying the situation, but if you need audio you’ll have to go and get it. I’m happy to believe the word of the Telegraph reporter, but as you are not, I encourage you to call the number I’ve provided (found on their website’s “contact” page) and un-conspiracy things.

Seriously. It’s your question, you want it answered, so go get the answer. Do some legwork.

aren192 March 25, 2009 at 8:44 pm

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This is hilarious; I actually made inquiries into the tape (given that you clearly had no interest) but if you insist on blocking comments, I see absolutely no reason to share information with your shoddy site. You’ll find the clip online soon enough.

Until then, enjoy your conspiracy-stoking.

Killjoy March 26, 2009 at 1:14 am

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Hey there wing-nuts,

Got it wrong again, I see. You did get a nice shout-out from the Dailykos.com weblog however, for mistakenly taking Obama’s joke as some sort of ‘gaffe’ and then wasting time on FOIA request. Jeez the elephants really are imploding.

Wow. This is what you people do with your time ?

How’s that workin’ for ya?

nonkenyan April 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm

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It’s our time. We enjoy reading what idiots like you post. Even if it’s from 2009. Thanks. Best thing is, as you are well aware being the lazy liberal freeloader that you probably are: It’s FREE! Now, put some clothes on over those cheeto-stained underware and crawl out of your mommies basement. Time for you to go get a job.

R.P. March 26, 2009 at 2:56 am

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Irish guy makes mistake and jokes about it. Obama refers to gaff and makes joke about it. Paranoid Nixonian right-wingers don’t get the joke and use their inability to understand as a way to get the torch and pitchfork crowd up in arms. Priceless flaunting of self-righteous ignorance and sanctimony. Did Obama use a teleprompter when giving long answers to questions at his press conference? No. Can he think and speak on his feet better than most Presidents? Yes. Does this anger the Right? Yes.

CEMan March 26, 2009 at 4:25 am

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I hear the tape is being delivered in a black helicopter. You will of course have to wear your tinfoil hat whilst watching it.
By the way, how do you like living in your parent’s basement?

R.P. March 26, 2009 at 7:36 am

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We all know the truth about this incident, but if Obama had in fact made a silly mistake, like reading the wrong text that was erroneously put into the teleprompter, why would that have been such a big deal? I have seen Obama in a dozen or so debates in the campaign. I have seen his do interviews many times. I have read a fair number of interviews with him. These are not prompted/scripted events. He is as capable if not more capable of expressing himself than any other politician I can recall. Ronald Reagan had some good speech writers, and his background as an actor and advertising pitchman helped him “communicate” well to his followers, but he also said any number of wacky garbled things. This fetishism about Obama’s faults reminds me of a junior high school locker room whisper that some popular cheerleader actually had bad skin, but used a lot of concealer. Shouldn’t you people be more concerned about, say, how Phill Gramm pushed the type of deregulation that got us into this financial mess? You know, the same Phill Gramm who said that “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.” part of McCain’s brain trust.

Albus Dumblegore March 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

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This guy is on the airwaves more than Ryan Seacrest and Miley Cyrus combined. Internet Q&A, Press Conferences, ,Weekly Radio Addresses, Prime time TV, Leno, 60 minutes, Washington Post Articles, skywriting, smoke signals. If it’s no big deal, then where is this brief couple minutes of exposure? Maybe we will all get to see that he is in fact… human.