Fawning press now gets cold shoulder from Obama

Byron York
Washington Examiner

…Obama makes no secret of his disdain for the press. Just look at the scene in the Oval Office May 18, when Obama invited a few journalists to watch him sign a new bill — it just happened to be the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act.

“Speaking of press freedom, could you answer a couple of questions on BP?” CBS’s Chip Reid asked Obama after the signing.

“You’re certainly free to ask them, Chip,” Obama said.

“Will you answer them?” Reid continued. “How about a question on Iran?”

“We won’t be answering — I’m not doing a press conference today,” Obama said. “But we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of this week. OK?”

And that was that. In the spirit of the day, Obama conceded that the press had the freedom to ask questions — he just didn’t have to answer them. (By the way, Obama aides edited the exchange with Reid out of the video of the signing posted on the White House Web site.)

When the president hinted he would answer questions “during the course of this week,” he was referring to his meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon a few days later. After the leaders made joint statements, Obama allowed questions from just two reporters, both from Spanish-language news outlets. Obama took more than 11 minutes to respond to the questions, then said their time was up, leaving reporters frustrated yet again.

While Obama dodges questions, his spokesman stonewalls them. There’s simply no other word to describe the White House handling of Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak’s charge that the Obama administration offered him a job if he would not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s recent primary.

Sestak, a former Navy admiral, first mentioned the matter on Feb.18. In the following weeks, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about it repeatedly. Gibbs didn’t deny the story; he simply said over and over that he didn’t have any information. Finally, on March 16, Gibbs said he had talked to “several people” in the White House and had been told that “whatever conversations have been had are not problematic.”

After Sestak beat Specter, the question arose again. “You never really explained what the conversation was,” ABC’s Jake Tapper said to Gibbs. “Then I don’t have anything to add today,” Gibbs snapped. The spokesman grew noticeably irritated when other reporters tried to follow up. Gibbs had said all he would say.

The situation amazes veterans of previous administrations. “I think it is astonishing that there isn’t carping about this from the press every day,” says former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino. “Believe me, they would have nailed us to the wall.”…

Read the whole thing at the Washington Examiner.

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