As coverage of last week’s flare-up between Bob Woodward and the White House devolved into the granular parsing of words and implications and extrapolations and possible intent, the larger point was roundly missed: the increasing pressure that White House correspondents feel when dealing with the Obama administration — to follow their narrative, to be properly deferential (!), to react to push-back by politely sitting down and shutting up. [...]
Finally, this week, reporters are pushing back. Even Jonathan Alter — who frequently appears on the Obama-friendly MSNBC — came forward to say he, too, had been treated horribly by the administration for writing something they didn’t like.
“There is a kind of threatening tone that, from time to time — not all the time — comes out of these guys,” Alter said this week. During the 2008 campaign swing through Berlin, Alter said that future White House press secretary Robert Gibbs disinvited him from a dinner between Obama and the press corps over it.
“I was told ‘Don’t come,’ in a fairly abusive e-mail,” he said. “[It] made what Gene Sperling wrote [to Woodward] look like patty-cake.”
“I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,” says one DC veteran. “She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c–t, a–hole.” He complained and was told the matter would be investigated: “They were hemming and hawing, saying, ‘We’ll look into it.’ Nothing happened.”
He wound up confronting the author of the e-mail directly. “I said, ‘From now on, every e-mail you send this reporter will be on the record, and you will be speaking on behalf of the president of the United States.’ That shut it down.” Continue reading via the New York Post...