Why reporters are down on President Obama

Josh Gerstein and Patrick Gavin
Politico.com
4/28/2010

One of the enduring story lines of Barack Obama’s presidency, dating back to the earliest days of his candidacy, is that the press loves him.

“Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me,” Obama joked last year at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

But even then, only four months into his presidency, the joke fell flat. Now, a year later, with another correspondents’ dinner Saturday night likely to generate the familiar criticism of the press’s cozy relationship with power, the reality is even more at odds with the public perception.

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 past 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:

… The ferocity of pushback is intense. A routine press query can draw a string of vitriolic e-mails. 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…

Much of the criticism is off the record, both out of fear of retaliation and from worry about appearing whiny. But those views were voiced by a cross section of the television, newspaper and magazine journalists who cover the White House.

“These are people who came in with every reporter giving them the benefit of the doubt,” said another reporter who regularly covers the White House. “They’ve lost all that goodwill.”…

Read the entire article, with video, at Politico.

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