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Tag Archives: White House press corps

WH Correspondents’ Assn. Presidents Rip Trump and Clinton

The outgoing and incoming presidents of the White House Correspondents’ Association, respectively Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal and Jeff Mason of Reuters, have written an op-ed in USA Today criticizing the treatment of the press by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

From the piece:

The White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The public’s right to know is infringed if certain reporters are banned from a candidate’s events because the candidate doesn’t like a story they have written or broadcast, as Donald Trump has done.

Similarly, refusing to regularly answer questions from reporters in a press conference, as Hillary Clinton has, deprives the American people of hearing from their potential commander-in-chief in a format that is critical to ensuring he or she is accountable for policy positions and official acts . . .

The United States will not have a free press if its president gets to choose which journalists and which media organizations are allowed access to the executive branch. We will not have a truly free press and an informed electorate if the president doesn’t believe he or she should be held accountable to inquiries from the media.

As a White House reporter, I am a member of the White House Correspondents’ Association. I know this won’t be popular with some of you, but I completely agree with the conclusions in the piece, and I applaud Lee and Mason for taking an aggressive stance.

Hillary Clinton’s failure to answer questions is reprehensible. She has a lot to hide, and she’s hiding it. Though I haven’t experienced it myself, her lackeys no doubt try to intimidate the press when negative stories that are written, just like the Obama people did.

Trump takes all press scrutiny personally and doesn’t seem to have any conception of the roll of reporters in performing accountability on politicians. His decision to ban many reporters from his press conferences stinks of the actions of a third-world despot. And his demagogic press bashing during his speeches is a play to the crowd that is unhealthy for our democracy.

To be sure, the press has undermined itself by failing to restrain its liberal bias. But most mainstream news reporters I know — not all, but most — do their best to keep their own agenda out of it and honestly report the news. Bias creeps in anyway, because we’re human. But the cause of accountability for politicians is so important that even if there is some bias, a potential president demonizing and banning the press is a danger to the republic.

Presidential candidates should allow access to all responsible journalists, even those with an opinion, whether from the left or the right. The Founders enshrined freedom of the press in the First Amendment, and for good reason.

White House: Hillary Cherry-Picked Emails? No Problem!

Here’s how to think of the Hillary Clinton email saga.

It’s difficult, in a way, because emails are not tangible things. They’re a form of organized electricity. Lighter than air. Like thoughts that can float away, or in this case, be erased in an instant.

To better understand what she did, let’s go back to a time before there were emails. Let’s go back to the Reagan administration. And let’s imagine if Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Al Haig, instead of archiving written memos sent to him by other administration officials, brought them all home. And then, when someone found out about it, he went through them and turned over 30,000. And then he got his fireplace roaring and burned 30,000 others, claiming they had nothing to do with official business.

What would Democrats, and many Republicans, be saying about that?

Mrs. Clinton had no particular reason to erase her email server. It’s a piece of electronic hardware. It doesn’t start to bulge and take up more space around the house if it has emails on it. The only reason to erase it is that she didn’t want people to see what was on it.

Now we find out that she didn’t, as you might have expected, turn over all the work-related emails. What’s more, some were edited by her staff

None of this, somehow, is any problem at all for the Transparency White House.

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden

Kevin Corke of Fox News, who in his short time at the White House has already established himself as one of the best cross examiners in the briefing room, wasn’t letting White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest get away Monday with the usual buck-passing to Hillary’s staff. The conversation made for some great TV.

One sample will show you why Corke presents a problem for the White House:

CORKE: “While she worked for the president, those emails were public record. They’re supposed to be maintained. All of them. Turns out they weren’t. They were on a private server. Which was against what the president asked her to do. And then after the fact we all find out she had her team, or her staff, pick and choose which ones that she said were available. Can’t you see how that’s a problem?”


Here’s the full exchange.

Chuck Todd Takes Over Meet the Press

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not sure NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd is the right choice to host Meet the Press.

Todd, as you probably know, will replace David Gregory. I’ve worked with both during their stints as White House reporters.

This is why Tim Russert succeeded so well on Meet the Press: He was smart, affable, sunny, knowledgable, passionate about politics, and without losing the cherubic look on his face, could slowly rip the intestines out of his guests.

Chuck has everything but the last quality. Maybe he can develop it.

At the White House, Chuck is a good questioner, standing out among mediocre inquisitors in the room. But he lacks the instinct to really carve up the press secretary.

Media reporter Dylan Byers put it well today in Politico:

Todd is well known for his analytical skills, his grasp of data and historical knowledge, but rattling off stats about House districts is not the same skill set as grilling evasive high-ranking politicians and officials on the issues of the day.

Viewers expect more than political trivia from Sunday morning shows — they want a program that goes beyond the recitation of familiar talking points, network execs believe. Americans already believe that the political press corps is too cozy with the politicians it covers. They are hungry for someone who can hold their guests’ feet to the fire, they say.

NBC would have done better perhaps to try to purloin from CNN Jake Tapper, who has that likable but tough quality of Russert’s. Ed Henry of Fox News has a similar ability as Russert to project a friendly countenance while implacably pressing for a serious answer. And Jonathan Karl has proven himself a relentless cross examiner in the White House briefing room.

Perhaps the best replacement of all is, tragically, dead. David Bloom, the NBC White House correspondent who perished in 2003 covering the Iraq war, was the best questioner I ever saw in the briefing room. He didn’t let the smooth talking Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry get away with anything.

chuck toddIt’s real hard to feel sorry for David Gregory. He was reportedly unpopular at NBC, at it’s not surprising. In the limited amount of contact we had at the White House, he was always friendly, but his behavior generally was atrocious. He gave no heed to the other reporters in the room, hogging the floor.

If we were questioning someone at the mikes on the West Wing driveway who had just met with the president, he’d show up and then it was, David Gregory’s here, everyone shut up while I ask my questions. There are ways to be aggressive without being obnoxious.

Still, I admired his tenaciousness and his commitment to the essential function of journalism, making the powerful tell the truth. I actually thought he was a good choice for Meet the Press.

Todd is, as they say, exactly the same in person as you see on TV. He has a disarming genuineness and knowledge not just of the political scene, but the motivations of the actors.

But his first responsibility as host must not be playing footsie with other Washington types, but holding their feet to the fire. It’s his duty. I hope he succeeds, because our politicians need accountability, not chumminess.

Obama to Take Remakes

Ah, the perils of iPhone autocorrect.

From Martha’s Vineyard, a pool report today by Katie Zezima of the Washington Post:

President Obama just completed a statement on the situation in Iraq (report to come very shortly). At 5:24 we are rolling toward a fundraiser at a private residence where the president will take remakes.

I assume that’s make remarks.

We of course never make any such mistakes here at White House Dossier, as my regular readers can attest.




Look! Obama’s Working!

There seems to be an effort afoot at the White House to demonstrate to the world that President Obama, who has now been getting flack even from the mainstream press for being disengaged – me and you have been wondering where he’s been for some time – in fact DOES SHOW UP FOR WORK.

In the strangest “pool spray” I’ve ever seen, the pool reporters were escorted to the windows of the Oval Office to bear witness to the fact that the president is on the phone.

From the pool report:

At 11:18 am, the pool was brought to the windows outside the Oval Office for a photo spray. It lasted 10 seconds.

We spotted the president sitting at his desk, talking on the phone – his left hand to his left ear. He briefly fiddled with his pen. Several aides were sitting on the couches. The pool has requested a list but the pool did spot Tony Blinken, deputy national security adviser.

From the WH:

“The President speaks with His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A formal readout will be provided later today.”

We were obviously not able to ask any questions of the president.

We have a lunch lid.

NEWSFLASH: We spotted the president sitting at his desk, talking on the phone – his left hand to his left ear. He briefly fiddled with his pen.

Here are your brave White House journalists gathering the news.

photogs Oval

Not exactly Gaza duty, is it?

Et voilà, the result, last night on the homepage of the New York Times website:

Obama on phone

There he is, not a golf club in sight. Even wearing his jacket in the Oval, which I don’t think he normally does.

And while I previously thought Obama was going to return from Martha’s Vineyard for a couple of days of “meetings” – before returning to his vacation – because something serious was going on, I’m now thinking nothing serious is going on at all!

During Thursday’s White House briefing, CBS correspondent Mark Knoller raised the possibility with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that that Obama’s White House stop might have something to do with skepticism about the wisdom of taking a two week vacation while the world is falling apart:

KNOLLER:  Josh, you said you couldn’t say who President Obama would be meeting with when he returns during the middle of his Martha’s Vineyard trip.  Can you say what the subjects of those meetings might be?

MR. EARNEST:  I can’t at this point, but you can check back next week and we’ll see if we can provide you some additional insight into those meetings.

KNOLLER:  Does he just want to meet with somebody?  (Laughter.)

MR. EARNEST:  Presumably if he just wanted to meet with somebody he could probably find people in Martha’s Vineyard who would meet with him.  But this is an opportunity for the President to meet with some of his White House staff who will be remaining in Washington, and it will be an opportunity for him to consult with them in person.

KNOLLER:  Does it address or reflect a sensitivity about the optics of a two-week vacation?

MR. EARNEST:  It does not.  There have been questions raised by some of our critics about the optics of two- and three-day travel.

I would assume that Earnest is not saying whom Obama will be meeting with because neither he nor Obama have any idea whom he will be meeting with.

But as Knoller put, he will be meeting with somebody.

WH Press Corps Protests Blocked Access

The White House press corps today formally protested a White House decision to bar reporters from an event featuring President Obama and the surviving members of the Apollo 11 moon mission, a gathering that would have naturally lent itself to wide coverage.

Obama met with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to mark the 45th anniversary of the mission. Neil Armstrong died in 2012.

The protest was lodged by Major Garrett of CBS, who is an officer of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the problem was that Obama “has a very busy schedule.”

Really? A busy schedule? This president?

ABC White House reporter Jonathan Karl smelled a rat.

“Couldn’t he have been maybe five minutes later for the fundraiser out in Seattle?” Karl wondered, referring to Obama’s trip out West today. “I find that explanation a little hard to believe.”

By which he meant it was a lot hard to believe. The press corps gets shoveled in and out of these events and it takes no more than a few minutes.

Earnest disingenuously threw in a jibe – right out of the Jay Carney playbook – about the press corps complaining it didn’t get enough time during such events, known as “pool sprays.” Karl responded that the complaints centered on getting “a couple of minutes” instead of a few seconds to see the president.

Karl posited another explanation:

“Is it because some of those Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, shortly before he  died, going to Congress – was very critical of this president for the way he has handled the space program?”

Earnest was appalled. “Absolutely not!” he said.

Video || Creating Obama One Photo at a Time

I thought you might want to see this excellent mini-documentary by ReasonTV revealing how the White House uses photography to craft President Obama’s image, employing Canon-wielding propagandist Pete Souza instead of the White House press corps to present the president to the public. In the video, news image analyst Michael Shaw, publisher of, describes how… Continue Reading

Saudis: The Jew Stays Out

Saudi Arabia is denying a visa to a Jewish member of the White House press corps to cover President Obama’s visit. Michael Wilner, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, said in a statement he had  “little doubt that my access was denied either because of my media affiliation or because of my religion.” Wilner is an… Continue Reading

“Openness” White House Dismisses Press Access Concerns

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed White House press corps concerns about the access of news photographers to President Obama, seeking to justify the use of official White House photographers to capture certain events instead. With the press barred, Obama’s photographers release their idealized propaganda shots directly to the public, placing their work… Continue Reading