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April 18, 2010

Gibbs Is Tired of White House Reporters Behaving Like Reporters; Whines About Fox News (Again)

Talking on CNN's Sunday Morning show, Gibbsy wants to end the practice of "anonymous sourcing". In other words, he wants the White House press corps to report only on approved topics.

During that meeting with the press corps, Gibbs offered correspondents a no-background policy, in which the White House would only give on-the-record interviews if reporters promised not to cite unnamed sources, he explained to host Howard Kurtz in an interview on "Reliable Sources."

"I think we could all put what we want to say to the American people and to the news media all on the record," he said. "I've offered to end it. But it's got to be a two-way street."

The news arrives as tensions between the White House and its devoted correspondents are growing, in part because of the minimal access they had to last week's Nuclear Security Summit.

I'm sure it's a pleasant fantasy for Gibbs, but thankfully not the way reporting works in the real world.

Gibbs had another couple of fantasy moments on the morning talk shows:

Responding to repeated questions from host Howard Kurtz about why Obama has held no press conferences since July 2009, Gibbs seemed to dismiss their relevance, calling it “an arbitrary Washington measure” of the president’s accessibility. “This president has taken questions through countless interviews through – answering questions directly from the media,” Gibbs said.

While more broadly expressing frustration with press coverage, Gibbs singled out Fox, saying that while the administration understands the need to “play the game” by giving the network access, it has a definitive “slant” in its coverage, including its news programs, and that it caters to a viewership that’s already made up its mind.

“I don't think many people have to watch Fox to understand the—the political slant that they have,” Gibbs said. “They're feeding an audience that they know want to see and hear a certain side of that argument.”

He cited the president’s sit-down with Fox News’s Bret Baier just before the health care vote as an example of the conservative-leaning outlet attempting to push an agenda.

First, President Bush was routinely abused by commentators for not holding enough press conferences during his first term, making this another "What if Bush had done it?" moment.

Second, when the President of the United States voluntarily appears on the most-watched cable news channel, you better believe that he's the one attempting to push a political agenda. By contrast, Fox News' non-political agenda can be summed up in just one word: "ratings."

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:50 PM

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