The AP’s FOIA Request for Osama bin Laden’s Death Photo

Last Monday, the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the photographic and video evidence taken during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The Atlantic Wire interviews Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at The Associated Press, about the impetus behind the request.

Oreskes said:

“It’s about us saying we would like to make our own news judgements about news worthy material.”

“We’re not deciding in advance to publish this material,” he pledged.  “We would like our journalists, who are working very hard, to see this material and then we’ll decide what’s publishable and what’s not publishable based on the possibly that it’s inflammatory.”

Ah. So it shouldn’t be up to the White House to decide whether or not the public should see this material — it should be up to the AP?

Somehow this reminds us of a comment once made by Greg Mitchell:

I think it is the whole thing of being the gatekeepers. The mainstream press wants to be, and always has been, gatekeepers… they want to decide what is important, they want to be able to patrol the information, they want to be able to decide what the public needs to know — and then hide other things.

Nonetheless, FishbowlNY agrees that as journalists, it is in the AP’s job description to try to track the photos down. But as President Obama has taken such a hard line on this one, we see the FOIA request being denied.