Last week Major Garrett of FOX News posed a difficult question to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs: did the White House send David Axelrod’s email message touting the administration’s health care party line last week to recipients who had not solicited White House messages? And if so, where did the White House email list come from? FOX News had received hundreds of emails from people who said they received Axelrod message, even though they had never requested any communication from the White House.
Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs disclaimed “omnipotent clarity” on the subject and suggested Garrett had a bad attitude. He asked Garrett to submit the names of recipients so the White House could check them against its own list. Yet FOX News reports that the White House ignored repeated offers to share with the administration such email addresses to help determine how the recipients ended up on the White House distribution list.
Now FOX News updates the story:
The White House for the first time Sunday seemed to acknowledge that people across the country received unsolicited e-mails from the administration last week about health care reform, suggesting the problem is with third-party groups that placed the recipients’ names on the distribution list.
In a written statement released exclusively to FOX News, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the White House hopes those who received the e-mails without signing up for them were not “inconvenienced” by the messages.
“The White House e-mail list is made up of e-mail addresses obtained solely through the White House Web site. The White House doesn’t purchase, upload or merge from any other list, again, all e-mails come from the White House Web site as we have no interest in e-mailing anyone who does not want to receive an e-mail,” the statement said. “If an individual received the e-mail because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the e-mail, we hope they were not too inconvenienced.”
This statement too is a bit lacking in the omnipotent clarity department, but it may be the best we’re going to get. And you can always unsubscribe:
Shapiro said Sunday that those recipients can unsubscribe if they want, “by clicking the link at the bottom of the e-mail or (telling) whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore.” He said the White House is trying to correct the problem.
“We are implementing measures to make subscribing to e-mails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individuals’ behalf,” he said.
The White House is moving on. Politico’s Mike Allen reports the story as “White House will change email rules.”