The White House is being very tight-lipped about a staffer who produces videos designed to paint President Obama and his policies in a positive light. Observers note that the videos advance some key themes of the president’s reelection campaign.
Both individuals who have worked as the White House’s official videographer also served on President Obama’s campaign, according to the Washington Guardian, which first reported the story. “And some of the weekly videos,” the Guardian’s Phillip Swarts notes, “match the messages of the Obama re-election campaign ads or the week’s political events.”
The West Wing Week video series, for instance, chronicles official presidential events and “behind-the-scenes” goings-on in the White House. The series was created by Arun Chaudhary, who worked in new media on the preisdent’s 2008 campaign.
Unsurprisingly, West Wing Week looks to paint the president and his efforts in the best possible light, often tying them to recent political events. But the synergy between the videos’ messages and the president’s campaign points is striking, Swarts reports:
Many clips are from the president’s speeches, often on subjects his re-election campaign is also advocating.
For instance, on the same day that Obama told a campaign rally that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s “top-down” economic approach would hurt the middle class, the White House videographer released a video with excerpts from one of the president’s speeches, warning against “top-down economics” that would hurt the middle class.
While any president’s public expressions of opinion are likely to remain the same while campaigning and acting as president, the similarities between the political footage and the taxpayer-funded official footage add to the suspicions of those who see a political motive to the operation.
White House officials refuse to say how much the official videographer is being paid. His name does not appear on the periodic list of White House staffer salaries, and Swarts reports that more than a dozen White House officials declined to comment on the issue.