White House

Battle heats up between White House and photographers

White House access battle

Tensions between the White House and the reporters who cover it are bubbling over as the Obama administration continues to bar journalists and photographers from key events.

One flashpoint occurred last week, when journalists were barred from a meeting between President Barack Obama and former U.S. presidents as they traveled to Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa, CNBC's Eamon Javers reported on "Power Lunch."

White House staff barred all outside photographers from a key meeting Tuesday between the president and a number of tech and media executives. As usual, only a staff photographer was allowed entry.

The agenda included the troubled HealthCare.gov rollout and the growing concerns among these executives about laws forcing them to release personal information about users to surveillance agencies.

(Read more: White House names former Microsoft exec to run HealthCare.gov)

White House Press Association President Steve Thomma spoke with CNBC about how important it is for the president and other high-level officials to be available at critical times.

"A great example is in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was shot," he said. "The White House released a photo of him in the hospital standing with Nancy Reagan ... in his pajamas. It was meant to reassure the country. What we found out later was that the photo was cropped. What they cropped out was the IV tubes running up down just outside the camera lens. A photojournalist ... would have gotten that."