When President Barack Obama banished the White House Press Corps from his golf outing with Tiger Woods at the exclusive Floridian golf course last week, White House reporters threw a fit not because they were unable to ask him the tough questions about Libya or sequestration they have never bothered to ask, but because they did not get a chance to see Woods. Adding more insult to perceived injury, the story was broken on Twitter, a new media platform, by an enterprising reporter who was not a part of their club.
White House reporters feel they still have a monopoly on information and when that information gets disseminated. They also feel entitled to “scoops” the White House feeds them. And the members of the White House Correspondents Association, the group that organizes the superficial annual dinner in Washington, D.C. in which the members of Washington’s permanent political class incestuously fawn over themselves and pathetically drool over C-list Hollywood celebrities and has-beens, were livid they did not get a chance to tell their friends they got to see Tiger Woods.
In stories about why White House reporters were frustrated, there are no mentions of reporters being frustrated because they could not ask Obama questions about the budget, Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, sequestration, Libya, or North Korea. The grievances, for the most part, were more superficial. Woods was a celebrity. And an “outsider” – and a sportswriter, at that – scooped them on a new media platform, they complained.
On NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on Monday, Andrea Mitchell mentioned three times during her report how irked White House reporters were that the information about Obama’s golf outing with Woods got revealed on Twitter.
She mentioned the “White House press corpo only found out from the Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte on Twitter and then on air.”
She noted “White house reporters were locked out of an exclusive golf club and only found out that the world’s most powerful man was playing a round with the world’s most famous golfer on twitter from the Golf Channel.”
Mitchell concluded her report by again noting that the White House had planned to “announce the round with Tiger Woods at the end of the day, had it not been tweeted out first.”
The National Journal’s Matt Cooper, who himself was a White House reporter before becoming an editor, wrote that tensions between White House reporters and the White House “went public when the press corps learned of the president’s golf outing with Tiger Woods through a tweet by a Golf Digest writer who had access to the clubhouse at the Florida country where the president was playing.”
Politico’s Roger Simon, also a veteran member of the mainstream press, asked why the White House would not want Obama and Woods to be photographed, “especially since a reporter from Golf Digest and Golf World, who was apparently a member of the private club, saw the two men and did tweet after tweet about it.”
Ed Henry, the president of the White House Correspondents Association, told Simon that Obama “was playing not with me or you or Joe Schmoe, but a celebrity and one of most controversial figures in sport because of his own issues.” He asked, “Was the White House a little nervous about putting a photo of him and Tiger Woods out there?”
Henry insisted it was not about golf in nearly every interview he did on the subject.
“This is not about a trivial issue like a golf game,” Henry told NBC on Monday. “We don’t really care about the president’s score.”
But when the White House Press Corps had a chance to prove they did not care about Obama’s golf score when they encountered Obama arriving at the White House from Florida on Monday, they, in unison, promptly asked Obama, “Did you beat Tiger?!?”