The White House is pushing back against a claim in Jodi Kantor’s new book “The Obamas” that the administration was so concerned about how a lavishly decorated Halloween party in 2009 would play in the midst of a recession that they did not discuss the event publicly and did not acknowledge the contributions of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, both of whom were present.
But press secretary Jay Carney said today that the party was hardly secret: The press was allowed to cover it in a “pool spray,” in which one or more reporters are allowed limited access to draw color for the rest of the press corps.
“It was a military event for their children and their families inside the White House where the press came, photographs were taken. It was contemporaneously known who was here,” said Carney. “If we’re trying to hide something by bringing in the press, we’re not very good at it.”
The event was a reception for military families, and the presence of Depp and Burton was not mentioned in the advance schedule of events that day. But photos of the Obamas with Depp (dressed in a his costume for “Alice in Wonderland”) and Burton did appear on fan sites, and the White House did post photos of the event on its Flickr feed, including one featuring Chewbacca from “Star Wars.”
While very few outlets mentioned the presence of Depp and Burton, it doesn’t seem like the party was much of a “secret,” but the White House wasn’t going out of its way to mention the Hollywood component, either.