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WaPo: Journalists Complain White House Overly Combative



The White House’s relationship with the reporters who cover it has blown hot and cold throughout history. And this year, some reporters say, things have taken a decidedly frosty turn.

When a reporter gets something wrong or is perceived as being too aggressive, the response is often swift and sometimes at top volume, reporters say. …

Glenn Thrush, who is a reporter for a Web site and Capitol Hill newspaper, Politico, said his encounters have been far more mild than what he experienced as a reporter covering New York City politics for Newsday.

“Coming from a New York tabloid background, having a flack speak to me in an elevated tone does not make me crawl under my desk,” he said. “It does not terrify me to have someone raise their voice occasionally. The expectation in covering the White House is that it’s always going to be about using the good china. Sometimes this is about paper plates.”

But others have been brought up short by the tone of their interactions when something displeases the communications staff. Half a dozen reporters contacted for this article described censorious e-mails or phone calls from Carney or his staff members that they characterized as heavy-handed. The reporters declined to speak for the record out of concern that doing so would further harm their relations with the White House.

Despite the blunt approach, no one on Carney’s staff has cut off access or otherwise frozen out a beat reporter. George Condon, who has covered the White House since the Carter administration, recalls that Speakes openly berated reporters during briefings.

Full piece here.


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