White House press complain about access to president

Politico | Huffington Post

President Obama's staff "often finds Washington reporters whiny, needy and too enamored with trivial matters or their own self-importance," Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write in Politico. So they limit the president's availability to the White House press corps, hand out photos and do document dumps on Friday afternoons. "Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access," VandeHei and Allen write.

Conservatives assume a cozy relationship between this White House and the reporters who cover it. Wrong. Many reporters find Obama himself strangely fearful of talking with them and often aloof and cocky when he does. They find his staff needlessly stingy with information and thin-skinned about any tough coverage. He gets more-favorable-than-not coverage because many staffers are fearful of talking to reporters, even anonymously, and some reporters inevitably worry access or the chance of a presidential interview will decrease if they get in the face of this White House.

Things came to a head when the press corps was shut out of President Obama's golf game with Tiger Woods, VandeHei and Allen report, when "reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National GolfClub, where Obama was golfing."

That breached the tradition of the pool “holding” in the clubhouse and often covering — and even questioning — the president on the first and last holes.

Leaving aside the thought of how things might go for a Politico reporter who told her bosses she missed a story because of the president's media mastery -- how useful is the access whose lack VandeHei and Allen are bemoaning? "All we're asking for is a brief exception, quick access, a quick photo-op on the 18th green," Fox News correspondent and White House Correspondents Association President Ed Henry told Politico's Dylan Byers after the star-crossed golf trip.

That quote contains multitudes: As VandeHei and Allen ding the White House for offering only skimpy access, the head of the WHCA pines for a photo op.

Obama offered the press a brief off-the-record convo on Air Force One Monday, Michael Calderone reports. Washington Post reporter Scott Wilson told him "that Obama 'did not come back with a message in mind.'"

"He didn't come back because he had to tell us something," Wilson said. "He came back to hang out."

On Twitter, Gawker Editor John Cook shows how different things were during the Bush years:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previously: Is Obama the ‘least newspaper-friendly president in a generation’?

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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