The White House press corps is seething again over official restrictions on access to President Obama.
This time, the journalists complain that the White House gave them no access to Obama during his long weekend playing golf in Florida. This comes amid rising concern among White House reporters that Obama doesn't hold enough news conferences and keeps himself at too much of a distance from the press corps that covers him.
"Speaking on behalf of the White House Correspondents' Association," said Fox News reporter Ed Henry, president of the WHCA, "I can say a broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online, and TV today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend. There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency."
In reply, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday, "The press access granted by the White House today is entirely consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings. It's also consistent with the press access promised to the White House Press Corps prior to arrival in Florida on Friday evening."
The White House apparently allowed Golf Digest senior writer Tim Rosaforte to cover at least some of Obama's golf game Sunday with pro Tiger Woods at the Floridian National Golf Club. But this was of little consolation to the press corps regulars whose job it is to cover the president, or those whose news organizations paid to have them travel to Florida specifically to cover Obama there.
Obama did hold a 10 minute, off-the-record session with reporters aboard Air Force One en route back to Washington Monday night. But this was seen by some White House reporters as too little, too late and a ploy to pacify reporters with off-the-record moments when they are seeking on-the-record access on behalf of their viewers, readers, and listeners.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is former president of the WHCA. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.