News & Politics

White House Hires Aide Who Once Forced a Reporter to Delete Photos of Biden

Dana Rosenzweig made a splash in 2013 when she confronted a student journalist.

Photograph by Vacclav via iStock.

Dana Rosenzweig has been appointed to the position of deputy director of management and administration for operations in the White House, the Biden administration announced Tuesday. Rosenzweig joins from McKinsey & Company and used to work as Biden’s director of administration for the office of the Vice President.

It was as a Biden aide that Rosenzweig made a splash in 2013, after she forced a student reporter at the University of Maryland to delete photos he took of the then Vice President during a speech in Rockville. The reporter, Jeremy Barr, who now works for the Washington Post as a media reporter, described the incident to the university’s Capital News Service at the time:

“(The staffer) asked, ‘Did you take any photos during the event?’” Barr said. He told the staffer, yes, he had taken a few photos.

“She said, ‘I need to see your camera right now.’” Barr said. The staffer called Barr’s presence in the non-press area an “unfair advantage” over the other members of the media at the event.

The staffer then requested to watch as Barr deleted the photos from his camera to ensure his compliance, Barr said.

After deleting the photos from the camera, the staffer asked Barr to show her his iPhone to make sure no photos were saved. Barr complied.

She also essentially “held me against my will,” Barr wrote a year later in an article (which I edited), “as I was told to wait while she called her supervisor and asked if she should also delete my audio recordings from the event.”

Lucy A. Dalglish, the dean of the university’s journalism school, made a formal complaint to the Vice President’s office, and its spokesperson Kendra Barkoff apologized to her, though Barkoff declined to speak on the record to the news outlet.

Barkoff described the Barr affair as an “unfortunate mistake of an inexperienced staffer,” a similar explanation to the one a different spokesperson for Biden used when apologizing for locking an Orlando Sentinel reporter in a closet during a a 2011 fundraiser and another spokesperson used when campaign aides prevented a Columbus Dispatch reporter from speaking to voters at an event. Biden’s staff could take a heavy approach toward the press to protect the Vice President from making any gaffes, Jonathan Martin reported for Politico in 2012. During one trip, Martin wrote:

reporters were hustled out of retail campaign stops in diners and other intimate settings, aides tried to edit media pool reports for any potential landmines that could be seized on by Republicans and even hovered at close range to eavesdrop on journalists’ conversations with attendees at Biden rallies.

The White House has not yet replied to a query as to whether Rosenzweig would interact with the press in her new position. The Washington Post PR department has not yet replied to a request for any comment Barr may have. “I sincerely hope our run-in won’t mar her professional record forever,” he wrote about her in 2014. “After all, I, too, know what it’s like to have the Internet attach an incident to your name.”

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.