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Tiff over White House camera crew and Fox

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DAVID BAUDER | October 23, 2009 08:01 PM EST | AP

NEW YORK — The Obama administration allowed a Fox News Channel reporter to interview Treasury Department "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg after other network news executives said they wouldn't use a pool arrangement to speak to him unless Fox was included.

The dispute over the interview on Thursday comes in the midst of an ongoing battle between the White House and Fox over the network's coverage of President Barack Obama.

The White House said it had received requests from TV networks to speak to Feinberg and had asked that the interviews be recorded through the networks' pool arrangement. The pool is set up and paid for by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox to save time and resources, so a single camera crew can record interviews done by separate network correspondents.

The White House said Fox had not asked for an interview and the White House sent its request for a pool reporter without including Fox. Bureau chiefs held a quick conference call and decided that their networks would not do the interviews unless Fox was given the opportunity, said a network executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person did not wish to be a part of the White House-Fox tiff.

After this decision was relayed, the White House quickly agreed to include Fox, the person said Friday.

"The White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox from ... television interviews," administration spokesman Joshua Earnest said Friday, "but yesterday we didn't."

Fox representatives Irena Brigant and Dana Klinghoffer did not immediately return a phone call and e-mails seeking comment. In an on-air report, Fox said that the administration had specified that "all members of the pool were welcome except for Fox News."

In its report, Fox said the White House "relented" after the pool's decision.