It wasn’t supposed to be funny, but members of the White House Press Corps couldn’t help themselves. They were reacting to the following statement from Robert Gibbs:
It looks as though the love affair between Obama and the reporters who cover his administration has soured.
President Obama and the media actually have a surprisingly hostile relationship – as contentious on a day-to-day basis as any between press and president in the last decade, reporters who cover the White House say.
Reporters say the White House is thin-skinned, controlling, eager to go over their heads and stingy with even basic information. All White Houses try to control the message. But this White House has pledged to be more open than its predecessors – and reporters feel it doesn’t live up to that pledge in several key areas:
— Day-to-day interaction with Obama is almost non-existent, and he talks to the press corps far less often than Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush did. Clinton took questions nearly every weekday, on average. Obama barely does it once a week.
— The ferocity of pushback is intense. A routine press query can draw a string of vitriolic emails. A negative story can draw a profane high-decibel phone call – or worse. Some reporters feel like they’ve been frozen out after crossing the White House.
— Except for a few reporters, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs can be distant and difficult to reach – even though his job is to be one of the main conduits from president to press. “It’s an odd White House where it’s easier to get the White House chief of staff on the phone than the White House press secretary,” one top reporter said.— And at the very moment many reporters feel shut out, one paper – the New York Times – enjoys a favoritism from Obama and his staff that makes competitors fume, with gift-wrapped scoops and loads of presidential face-time.