A growing media frustration with Barack Obama’s team spilled into the open at Thursday’s briefing, with reporters accusing the White House of stifling access to his oath re-do and giving Obama’s first interview as president to a multi-million dollar inauguration sponsor.
Veteran CBS newsman Bill Plante was one of the most vocal critics, questioning the White House’s handling of Wednesday night’s second swearing in – which was covered by just a four-reporter print pool that didn’t include a news photographer or TV correspondent.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs the press at the White House in Washington, January 22, 2009.(Larry Downing/Reuters)
By MICHAEL CALDERONE
He also asked new press secretary Robert Gibbs why ABC, which paid millions to host the DC Neighborhood Ball, was granted the only inauguration day interview with President Obama – a move he equated to “pay to play.”
“We have a tradition here of covering the president,” said Plante, who is covering his fourth administration.
Gibbs defended the White House’s moves, insisting aides acted in a “way that was upfront and transparent” in allowing the standard pool into the swearing-in. And Obama himself seemed mindful of making a good impression, paying a surprise visit to the White House pressroom a few hours after the briefing.
It’s been a bumpy 24 hours for Gibbs and company, as members of the White House press corps have publicly expressed frustration with an administration promising openness and transparency.
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