The honeymoon might be over for a few WH reporters. Everyone can’t be first and everyone can’t be the
favored guy, all the time. But it appears that one guy is favored with the WH more often and more obviously than others.
Richard Wolffe, author of Renegade: The Making of a President and a planned sequel, is getting an unfair amount of access than other reporters and it’s not sitting well with many of the pool reporters. A fact that Wolfe does not dispute and in fact, verifies:
Wolffe said over email: “I’ve been in lots of parts of the White House and talked to lots of White House officials. Most often on my own. Sometimes with very few media present. Sometimes with lots of media present. I’ve never been a pool reporter. I negotiate my own access for the book and pursue my own reporting.” [Emphasis mine]
As background, Wolffe was a reporter for NewsWeek and was on the campaign trail with Obama – strictly Obama, during which he was doing foundational work for Renegade. His NewsWeek editors discovered indirectly that he was working on a book while he was also working on their dime. (NewsWeek reimbursed the Obama campaign $170,000 for travel expenses incurred by Wolffe.)
By the way, it was Obama who suggested that Wolfe write a Theodore White-type book [The Making of the President 1960] about the campaign and expected presidential win.
In his book, Wolfe wasn’t very kind to his bosses at NewsWeek. In one passage, Wolfe takes a direct shot at the Newsweek’s chief scribe, Evan Thomas [great grandson of socialist and several time presidential candidate Norman Thomas], describing him as one of the magazine’s “most senior, and white, writers” whose “racial stereotyping” wasn’t that different from Jeremiah Wright’s inability “to accept that America was in the process of change.”
We all remember Evan Thomas:
But I digress.
On the campaign trail, many of the pool reporters were unhappy and jealous of his almost unlimited access to Obama. He played basketball with the candidate while on the campaign trail and “after a campaign event at a restaurant in Reno…, Wolffe and Obama shared a heaping piece of frosted carrot cake as the Secret Service ushered the rest of the press corps to a waiting bus, according to a pool report.”
Fast forward to last month and the rising tension between the press and the WH. Julie Mason, pool reporter for the Washington Examiner said: “I was the print pooler, and I told him, ‘You are not in the pool — you shouldn’t be here [at a House Democratic Caucus meeting with the president],'” Mason recalled. “We did have words, and he invited me to take it up with Robert Gibbs. I asked him if he was now officially working for the administration, which rightly [ticked] him off.”
Wolffe is no longer with NewsWeek. Many at the publication felt that he had become too enamored with Obama during the campaign and that his coverage (or lack of it) effected his reporting for the publicaton. After the election, they wanted to take him off the WH beat for other duties but he was not inclined to accommodate their wishes. He’s now working for a public relations firm, writes for the Daily Beast and is a sometime consultant to – where else – MSNBC.
April 22nd, 2010 at 3:01 PM
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