White House Press Corps seat: Who cares?

The group Moveon.org is trying to get people to send the White House Correspondents’ Association votes on who should get the seat vacated by Helen Thomas in the White House press room. You can read about it here (click).

Essentially, they’re worried that the seat could go to Fox News, which is well-known for the right wing slant to its news and the hard right stance of its commentators.

My take: So what? The White House Press Corps is as useless as tits on a boar, as we like to say out here in flyover country.

Here’s the response I sent to Kat Somebody at Moveon.org, whose name is on the email going around:

Thanks Kat, but I would, in this instance, urge moveon.org to move on to something more meaningful to advocate.

Symbolism is fine, but the White House Press Corps has been a useless pile of dictation machines since the 70s — The reporters in that pool allow themselves to be controlled by the White ┬áHouse’s press manipulators out of fear that their questions won’t be answered at some future date, or that they won’t be called on, if they are too pushy. Even if they are pushy, the White House Press Spokespeople are hired specifically for their ability to not answer any question.

It is no coincidence that the Watergate Scandal was not uncovered by the White House Press Corps.

Want to see them at their finest? Watch a tape of the press conference that George Bush held on TV just before the Iraq War started — with a war looming, the fate of the nation and a world-changing action at hand, those guys were afraid to say boo and tossed softball after softball, not a single hard question in the bunch. My favorite? “Do you pray,” by some religious reporter.

So, the symbolism of who sits in front is fun to ponder, but don’t give it any weight. No matter who is in the Oval Office, the press room in the White House is one of the most controlled public relations outlets in the nation, and there are damn few there who fight back. Fox may fight even less than the others, but less than very little isn’t much of a difference.

Charles Trentelman
Columnist at the Ogden Utah daily newspaper, The Standard-Examiner
35 year news reporter.

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9 Responses to White House Press Corps seat: Who cares?

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    Excellent letter, Charlie … Maybe that odd male escort who wrote for a bizarre right-wing GOP machine “news agency” in the Bush 2 administration can get his name in the bidding (lol)

  2. BobBecker says:

    Right on target, Charlie.

    Even lefties succumb now and then to the itch to turn the trivial into Matters Of Great Symbolic Import as the right does frequently [e.g. "He wasn't wearing a flag lapel pin when he made his speech! He's anti-Americant!" etc. ]

  3. dan s. says:

    “It is no coincidence that the Watergate Scandal was not uncovered by the White House Press Corps.”

    It is no coincidence that the Envision Ogden Scandal was not uncovered by the Standard-Examiner.

  4. Tom says:

    Another fine piece Mr. T. Thanks.

    And Dan, it is also no coincidence that the Standard never uncovered (or even mentioned anything about the Godfrey FANURE crimes, or the many and various other manipulations of the system he and his gang of incompetents are guilty of.

    With a track record of incompetence like that, it seems like the Standard should perhaps take that seat in the White House Press room? After all, they are experts at press release journalism in their so called “news department”.

  5. Joe says:

    All the MSM lib news guys are timid with Obama. Anything to the right of hard left is called right wing by the head in sand crowd. The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, et.al., all have their collective heads up the presidential you know what. They and others like them have been destroying any kind of real journalism in this country. Nothing on Acorn. Nothing on Van Jones or the other self proclaimed Marxist in the W.H. circle. Nothing on the Black Panthers. Nothing on a Tardy response to the oil spill – Carville had to scream into the TV before anyone would start asking any hard questions. How about Shultz of MSNBC whining that Obama dissed him and appeared on Bret Baier during his time slot after he (Shultz) busted his hump for healthcare. I liked Krauthammer’s response, “Spoken like a real political hack. You busted your rump for partisan politics, but so what, no one watches your show.” And with Obama, its coverage and manipulation, not loyalty Shultz. And besides your supposed to be busting your rump for the public, not so everyone can see you slobber all over Obama in front of a viewing audience. Get real you Fox News complainers.

  6. Michael Trujillo says:

    Well, Joe, it’s just another example of partisanship. For eight years the right-wing news guys were timid with Bush. Same types of questions not asked.

    You’ve got to dig hard to find non-biased news coverage. Are you up to the task? Or are you just going to keep listening to the ones who tell you what you want to hear?

  7. Bill says:

    LOL Michael! What right-wing news guys? The White House press corps is something like 87% liberals! Hard for conservatives to ask Bush “tough questions” when there are close to zero in the room….

  8. BobBecker says:


    Then you’re going to have to explain why, for example, the NY Times lead reporter on the Iraq War as it began, Judith Miller, meekly reported as fact Administration spin and leaks to the Times readers, without fact-checking pretty much anything. If an Administration spokesmen told her something “on background” it ended up in the Times reported as fact. Yet she was counted by the right as part of the “liberal media.”

    The problem with the main stream press in the US is not, and has not been, political bias. It’s been craven timidity, regardless of which party owns the WH. The MSM was cravenly timid with the Bush administration, particularly regarding the war in Iraq and its economic policies [the tax cuts that weren't going to raise the deficits for example, remember the incisive reporting on them? No? That's ok. I don't either. ]. And it’s been craven as well during the first two years of the Obama administration, particularly on civil liberties matters. It’s this timidity that Conservatives see as liberal bias, and that Liberals see as conservative bias. In most cases, its neither. It’s just deferential journalism, which is always [when it's reporting on public office holders] bad journalism.

    We have an example right here in Junction City, as the SE tiptoes -e-v-e-r so gently around the Mayor and his administration in reporting Ogden civic affairs.

  9. laytonian says:

    Bill and Joe:

    Re-read Bob Becker’s comment above this.

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