Ed Henry At Center Of White House-White House Correspondents Association Spat

By Alex Weprin 

The “golf course incident” is spilling over into the work week. Right now the White House and the White House Correspondents Association are at odds over access.

In case you aren’t caught up: over the weekend the President played golf in Florida with Tiger Woods, among other people. The press was not allowed in to see them play. White House Correspondents Association president (and Fox News correspondent) Ed Henry went public with press complaints about the incident, saying it was emblematic of a larger issue at the White House.

Henry is speaking out on behalf of the WHCA, talking to Politico about the issue, and appearing on competitor “NBC Nightly News” to talk about the dispute. Henry’s FNC affiliation was not included in the chyron.

Politico also published an in-depth, reported piece from Mike Allen and Jim VandeHai titled “Obama, The Puppet Master.” The report looks at the administration’s views on the press, including Obama’s preference to talk to TV reporters over print reporters, and how staffers keep reporters at arms length and beyond:

Conservatives assume a cozy relationship between this White House and the reporters who cover it. Wrong. Many reporters find Obama himself strangely fearful of talking with them and often aloof and cocky when he does. They find his staff needlessly stingy with information and thin-skinned about any tough coverage. He gets more-favorable-than-not coverage because many staffers are fearful of talking to reporters, even anonymously, and some reporters inevitably worry access or the chance of a presidential interview will decrease if they get in the face of this White House…
*The super-safe, softball interview is an Obama specialty. The kid glove interview of Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by Steve Kroft of CBS’s “60 Minutes” is simply the latest in a long line of these. Obama gives frequent interviews (an astonishing 674 in his first term, compared with 217 for President George W. Bush), but they are often with network anchors or local TV stations, and rarely with the reporters who cover the White House day to day.

Criticism was not universal however. On “The O’Reilly factor,” Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly agreed that the issue wasn’t a huge deal.