Hey, folks, have you checked your local listings? Big press conference tonight! You know what that means, right? Big bitching from the White House Press Corps this afternoon! Nobody should be surprised by this.
Print reporters in the White House press corps are seething at perceived slights against them by President Obama and his team. Many print journalists see their role being diminished as Obama and his aides seem to lavish attention on television anchors and reporters and on liberal bloggers, and this is raising the adversarial tone at the daily briefings of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Got that, Robert Gibbs? You are going to get an increased adversarial tone from the press corps if you don't watch it! Is it because the White House has been obfuscating (on White House visitors), breaking promises (on Don't Ask Don't Tell), struggling to hold the line on major policy (health care, energy), or dodging key issues (TARP transparency)? No! Because you see, those would all be GOOD reasons to get adversarial with the White House. Instead, the adversity is motivated by the same things that have traditionally motivated the White House Press Corps: status and vanity.
Oh, and this is not a new story, not at all! These same criticisms were levied against the Obama administration way, way back during the campaign! In January 2008, the press corps were bitching, through able-bodied mouthpiece Howard Kurtz, that they weren't doing enough to "court" the reporters. HOW CAN REPORTERS LEARN TO LOVE OBAMA IF HE DOESN'T EVEN TRY TO WIN THE NEWS CYCLE? And who can forget the elegant laments of high-toned ass Dean Reynolds, who literally complained because the campaign was not being nice to him?
Guess what, the press has not managed to change the Obama press operation in all that time. What's changed instead is the Magical Press Room Protocols, the Arcane Mystery that the Press Corps has guarded as their most precious possession. Those are a few of their favorite things, and Obama hasn't shown them sufficient respect!
He usually adds a liberal voice, such as a blogger, and a member of a minority-oriented news organization. And since his opening statement tends to be a minispeech and his answers usually run long, this leaves little time to call on other reporters in the hour-long format. Reporters at Gibbs's briefing Monday also raised objections to Obama's practice of preselecting those he calls on and operating from a list.
OH, WAAAH. It sure sounds like Fallujah or something!
Of course, it seems petty to single out the structured "mini-speech" beginning of the presser as a cause to raise ire. That "mini-speech" is for the president's constituents to hear. And it's been made pretty clear to me that preselecting questions and lists are de rigeur practices for the White House Press Corps. That's why, to date, despite my repeated asking, I have never had a single member of the White House Press Room tell me that they would refuse to participate in the process if they were preselected. So, you know what? I think it's time for the White House Press Corps to maybe be quiet about their feelings for a while.
Seriously. His answers run long? Jeezy creezy. If the White House replaced the opening "mini-speech" with a spirited session of "Hand Jobs For the Front Row," they'd let that presser run all night.