We’ve chronicled several tense exchanges between the White House press corps and Press Secretary Jay Carney on this site. Reporters from Fox News to ABC to CBS have all had their go rounds with the president’s communications department. And now, the organization affiliated with the corps has confronted the White House about it.
In a new Washington Post report, the paper chronicles a meeting between the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) and Carney’s office.WHCA President Caren Bohan, who also serves as a reporter for Reuters, told the Post the discussion grew out of a series of “tense interactions.”
“There are sources you have interactions with where it can get heated and there are others where that doesn’t happen that often,” she told the Post.
The Post explains where the concern comes from:
When a reporter gets something wrong or is perceived as being too aggressive, the pushback is often swift and sometimes at top volume, reporters say.
“They shoot first and ask questions later,” said Julie Mason, who has reported on the George W. Bush and Obama White Houses for the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Examiner and Politico. In one of the e-mails that reporters have dubbed “nastygrams,” White House press secretary Jay Carney branded one of Mason’s stories “partisan, inflammatory and tendentious.” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, reacting to comments Mason made in a TV discussion, sent her an e-mail that included an animated picture of a crying mime — a visual suggestion that she was whining.
“They don’t seem to realize or care that [e-mails sent from the White House] will become part of the official archives of the presidency,” says Mason, who last month became host of a national talk show about politics on Sirius XM Radio.
Carl Cannon, a longtime political journalist who is the Washington editor of the Web site Real Clear Politics, says he recently got zinged. After his site posted a headline and video of President Obama promoting a political fundraising raffle at the White House in June — which Republicans said could be a violation of campaign-finance law — Cannon heard about it in no uncertain terms. A deputy press official let loose “a screaming, profane diatribe that lasted two or three phone calls,” Cannon recalled. “It hurt my ear.”
How does Carney respond? According to him, a former White House reporter for Time Magazine, his office is as professional as his predecessors, and some push back comes with the territory.
“It’s not always a ‘Mister Rogers’ script, but we have good, very cordial” relationships with reporters, he told the Post. “Obviously, we’re going to tell people what our view of things is.”
Still, the Post reports that “Although many praise Carney for improved access, they say the tone of private communication has become harsher under him.”
Read the full report from the Washington Post, which includes several examples of reporters being “dressed down” for unfavorable articles about the president.