03/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Columbia Journalism Review: White House Press Office Undercutting Obama

It's 3 p.m. and the phone in the White House press secretary's office is ringing. It rings and rings and rings. Eventually, a recorded voice asks callers to leave a message--followed by a second voice saying the voicemail box is full.

After a full week of such calls, a human being answers. But Ben Labolt immediately bristles when asked to spell his name, refuses to give his job title, and says he is going "off the record" until I stop him to explain that the reporter grants that privilege, not the other way around--a basic journalistic standard that Labolt seems unaware of. He soon hangs up without even hearing what I called to ask about.

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