WASHINGTON -- The White House Correspondents Association, of which The Huffington Post is a member, sent a sharply worded letter to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday, complaining of limited access to the president and Gibbs himself as chaos in Egypt unfolded.
The note includes a formal protest over the press office's decision to keep the president's signing of the START nuclear nonproliferation treaty off-limits to everyone but still photographers. But the main thrust of the critique involves Gibbs's handling of media relations during the past week, when the president has taken no questions and the daily briefings have been either delayed or canceled altogether.
The letter is below:
We recognize that the crisis in Egypt is a quickly evolving story and you are working to get us the information we need in a timely manner, but we are concerned about several access issues on Tuesday and now today.
On behalf of the White House Correspondents Association we are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the White House's decision to close the President's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and his signing of the START Treaty today to the full press pool.
The START treaty was held up as one of the President's most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year dating back to the trip to Prague last spring. We are concerned that now his signing of it is open to still photographers but closed to editorial, including print and wire reporters and television cameras.
We know the President came out late last night to speak on Egypt, and we appreciate the email updates from NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, but his emails have not gone to all members of the press corps and are not a substitute for access to the Press Secretary or the President.
Prior to the President's statement Tuesday night, the press corps had not received a substantive update from the White House all day on the situation in Egypt. In addition, the press corps did not have an on-camera briefing, or an off-camera gaggle, with you yesterday to ask the White House about its decision-making process during this major foreign policy crisis. Now for two straight days the full press pool is being shut out of events that have typically been open and provided opportunities try to ask the President a question.
These issues are vitally important for all of our members - print, TV and radio.
We value our working relationship, and we hope you will reconsider and at least open the START Treaty signing to the full pool.