WHITE HOUSE - An internal discussion erupted Saturday among journalists who cover the White House after the dissemination of official photographs of a famous conservative talk show host and a professional golfer with U.S. President Donald Trump at one of his private clubs.
White House Correspondents' Association President Olivier Knox, who is chief Washington correspondent for Sirius XM satellite radio, sent an email to members stating he wanted to remind them "that using/tweeting official White House photo handouts undermines our still-photo colleagues and our principles. Please do not post them on social media or use them in your publications or broadcasts."
Knox sent his message shortly after the White House distributed, via the designated pool reporter for the day, three still pictures taken Friday of Trump at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Two of the photos showed the president with radio talk show Rush Limbaugh, a strong supporter of Trump's, while a third showed together on the 27-hole course the president, Limbaugh and professional golfer Lexi Thompson.
All of the images were taken by White House staff photographer Joyce Boghosian.
The golf outing took place a day after the release of a special counsel's report into the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
Bloomberg News, The Hill, VOA and Yahoo News were among the news organizations posting some or all of the pictures on their social media accounts or websites.
"The White House typically doesn't release photos of Trump's golf partners, nor does it usually share details of each of his trips to hit the links," noted Rachel Frazin on The Hill website, which focuses on political coverage.
Individually, journalists from ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, Reuters, VOA and The Washington Post, among others, also tweeted the photos, with several explaining the context.
Here’s something we rarely see -> the White House released photos of President Trump on the golf course with Rush Limbaugh and Lexi Thompson. pic.twitter.com/GHCuCLSuGm— Elyse PG (@elysepg) April 20, 2019
There has been tension, not only during the Trump administration, between the White House and press photographers assigned to cover the president concerning imagery access.
"A White House photo release, no matter how accurate the image, provides only one perspective — one that is carefully screened and approved," the White House News Photographers' Association complained in a July 25, 2005, letter to Dan Bartlett, an assistant on communications for President George W. Bush.
"Eventually the Bush administration agreed to drastically reduce their usage of the handouts," according to an account of the controversy published five years later by Clint Hendler in the Columbia Journalism Review when the issue flared up again in the Obama administration.
Letter from photographers' president
"The job of the official White House photographer is not to provide news photographs that have gone through layers of an approval process before being deemed fit to release. It's not enough to let only reporters in and think that you are really granting access to the press in a transparent way," complained WHNPA President Dennis Brack in a March 2010 letter to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The Trump White House on Saturday did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Knox's message to WHCA members asking that the association's journalists refrain from using White House handout photos.
Trump is spending the Easter holiday weekend in Florida, shuttling between his golf course and his Mar-a-Lago resort.
The White House, as of Saturday afternoon, had not provided the traveling media pool of reporters, videographers and photographers any access to Trump since he arrived in the state Thursday.
The president and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to return to the White House on Sunday evening.