Reporters who have missed the president’s rapier-sharp wit got a healthy dose last night at the annual Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington. Even though the Special Olympics World Games ended just last month, the comedian-in-chief found a different inappropriate target to make light of: Recent reports by members of the mainstreama media who were chastened by the White House after having had the temerity to criticize it.
Yahoo! News has a sampling of the president’s knee-slappers, several of which referenced the dustup between economic adviser Gene Sperling and veteran journalist Bob Woodward:
This whole brouhaha has had me a little surprised Who knew Gene [Sperling] could be so intimidating? Or let me phrase it differently: Who knew anybody named Gene could be this intimidating? [Ed note: Serial killer Carl Eugene White, aka ‘The Sunday Morning Slasher,’ was unavailable for comment.]
You notice that some folks couldn’t make it this evening. It’s been noted that Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted.… I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively, but hey, can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? What’s the worst that could happen?
But not every administration since Watergate has felt the need to go on the offensive against Woodward. One that did was the Bush White House, which Woodward attacked relentlessly in a series of four books excoriating the president over his abuse of executive power and mishandling of the war in Iraq. It was not until publication of the third book, “State of Denial” (2006), that the administration pushed back. When then-deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino attempted to discredit the book, the elite media closed ranks around “one of its own.” Contrast that with the media’s scorched-earth campaign against Woodward last month.
Nor is this the first time the White House has threatened a reporter for the crime of casting Obama in a negative light. In one of the more telling examples, Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle was covering an Obama fundraiser in April 2011 when a group of protesters chided, “We paid our dues, where’s our change?” Marinucci recorded the event on her cell phone camera — and was summarily banished from covering future presidential visits to the Bay Area. The excuse the White House gave was that Marinucci was part of the “print pool” and in using an electronic capture device had thus crossed a line.
Chronicle editor at large Phil Bronstein bitterly quipped in his blog at SFGate:
[T]hat’s a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist’s tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn’t leak through your pocket.
But neither thin skin nor gloom of night stays this president from clowning around when the Republicans or dissenters in the press have not given him a reason to flash his vintage pout (shown here). Last night he joked:
Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps, that we’re too controlling. You know what, you’re right. I was wrong. I want to apologize — in a video you can watch exclusively at Whitehouse.gov.
It’s anybody’s guess how many reporters in attendance visited the website this morning to watch the video.
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