The war of words between the Obama administration and the press continued to heat up over the weekend, with a top columnist comparing President Obama to Richard Nixon and the president expressing frustration with the media's coverage of the BP oil spill.
In her New York Times column Sunday, Maureen Dowd blasted President Obama's attitude towards the press, which she said has "self-pitying echoes of Nixon":
Like many Democrats, he thinks the press is supposed to be on his side...the former constitutional lawyer now in the White House understands that the press has a role in the democracy. But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling. So he ends up regarding scribes as intrusive, conveying a distaste for what he sees as the fundamental unseriousness of a press driven by blog-around-the-clock deadlines.
The upshot of all this, Dowd wrote, is that Vice President Joe Biden has become the point man for the press. Dowd also talked to NBC's political editor and chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, who said that Obama's frosty relationship with the press comes from the fact that "he's never really needed us." (It's not the first time Todd has criticized Obama's handling of the press corp; last month, he told Howard Kurtz that the president has "disdain" for journalists.)
If the press corps is increasingly criticizing the president's media relations skills, Obama has not been shy about his views of their work either. In an interview with Politico's Roger Simon on Sunday, Obama lashed out at the media for its coverage of the BP oil spill. There has been a steady torrent of calls for Obama to show more overt anger or emotion about the disaster. The president said this was an example of the press inventing a scandal out of thin air:
"Now, the fishermen I met with in the Gulf, or the families that I met with yesterday whose loved ones had died out on that rig, they don't have a doubt about whether I care or not. And, you know, what I think I get frustrated with sometimes, as do I suspect other members of my team, is that the media specifically is demanding things that the public aren't demanding."
The charges and counter-charges from Dowd and Obama are just the latest example of the tense relations between the White House and the press. In April, for instance, the White House press corps held a special meeting with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs over the chilliness.