White House under fire for Naomi Biden Vogue spread after banning media from wedding

Twitter users debated whether press should have access to Biden’s granddaughter’s private event

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 23 November 2022 16:08 GMT
White House reiterates Naomi Biden wedding was private affair after Vogue photoshoot

The White House is on the defence over accusations the media were shut out of Naomi Biden’s wedding in favour of a Vogue photoshoot.

Several members of the press tweeted their disapproval having been told the week prior to the nuptials of President Joe Biden’s granddaughter that the family wanted privacy.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on 18 November: “They have decided to make this wedding private. It is a family event. It is — and we are going to respect Naomi and Peter’s wishes.”

On Tuesday morning, Vogue unveiled a special digital cover, proclaiming: “Naomi Biden, the eldest granddaughter of President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden, opens up about planning a White House wedding, and the details — no matter how small — that made it a spectacular family affair.”

The accompanying photoshoot has Ms Biden and the first lady pictured around the White House in advance of the wedding, having been shot the Thursday before the ceremony.

Katie Rogers of The New York Times tweeted that she had reporting in October that Vogue would be covering the wedding but “was waved off” and given the official explanation that the photoshoot was not going to be there on the day of the wedding.

“Loophole = the family staged a ‘wedding at the WH’ shoot beforehand,” she tweeted. “‘Private’ per @PressSec = not for the White House press corps.”

Rogers’ colleague Maggie Haberman argued: “We cover the small lies politicians tell because they can give way to bigger ones, for folks wondering why this is news. That’s what the press is supposed to do.”

Ashley Parker of The Washington Post noted: “I spent four years covering the Trump WH and two years covering the Biden WH. What’s fascinating is that they both lie, albeit in v different ways. Trump team was shameless, whereas Biden team is too cute by half.”

She added: “TO BE CLEAR: Not all lies are created equal and the magnitude, frequency and audacity is certainly different. But the Biden WH, for ex, has also waived us off correct reporting about Biden's SCOTUS pick, his Egypt trip, attendees in private meetings, etc.”

However, others on Twitter disagreed that there was no lie, as Vogue was not present on the day to cover the wedding, and the event was indeed private and invitation-only, as Ms Jean-Pierre reiterated in Tuesday’s press briefing.

“This was not a national security meeting. This was not an economic meeting,” she said. “This was a young couple’s wedding with their friends and family. This is what this was, this is what happened here on Saturday. So and secondly, just to be very clear, Vogue did not attend the wedding. They were not there.”

Vogue did a portrait shoot on Thursday afternoon before the wedding in the green room. I would also remind you that many photos were released to the public on Saturday after the wedding to everyone. Vogue actually held their photos, they embargoed it until today. So that so it will give ample time for the photos to be in the public sphere,” she added.

Ms Jean-Pierre concluded: “It is inaccurate, it is wrong, it is not right to suggest that it was open, that a Vogue cover was open to the press, it was not.”

When pushed again as to whether a photoshoot and interview discussing the planning of the wedding constituted coverage of it, the press secretary maintained that the wedding itself was a private event.

Naomi Biden married Peter Neal on 19 November on the South Lawn of the White House

President Joe Biden's granddaughter Naomi Biden and her fiance, Peter Neal, are married on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday

On Saturday, the White House released a picture of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden with Naomi and her husband Peter Neal at the reception.

Photos of the wedding, which took place on the South Lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, were also released by event planner Bryan Rafanelli.

In addition, pictures were taken with a telephoto lens of the actual ceremony from elsewhere in Washington, DC.

Previous White House weddings, notably those of first daughters Tricia Nixon in 1971 and Lynda Byrd Johnson in 1967, were open to the media and included photo and video coverage.

Jenna Bush Hager married in 2008 while George W Bush was president, but the wedding was held in Crawford, Texas, with a separate reception at the White House.

More recent weddings of presidential family members who were not first daughters (Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham in 1994) or who were close friends of the president (White House photographer Pete Souza in 2013) have been private affairs.

There have been a total of 19 weddings at the executive mansion.

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