Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Calderone: White House Press Corps Making Nice-Nice to Obama's Staff

Michael Calderone of Politico writes tonight of the White House Press Corps' ritual in gaining a welcoming ear in the West Wing: When a new administration gains power, write glowing features about the players, and hope that a soft feature now will pay dividends down the road when you need a source.

It's a great read into the inner workings of the White House press crops and how it operates:

In the early days of any administration, reporters reach out to the men and women who might become their sources over the next four years — then slather them with glowing profiles suitable for framing in their mothers’ bedrooms.

Even garden-variety government officials become political superheroes, each one harder-working and more down-to-earth than the last — and all of them enjoying the ear of the president.

Reading once again about Gibbs’ folksy ways, his pastel ties and his Alabama roots, a part-time political junkie might question the need for yet another profile of the hard-working press secretary who’s always within earshot when the president weighs a big decision.

But this proliferation of profiles isn’t about the reader’s need to know, or at least not entirely. It’s also about reporters’ need to introduce themselves to and ingratiate themselves with the White House officials they’ll need as sources over the next four years.

It’s far easier for a reporter to get time with a key staffer when both parties know that a flattering profile is coming. And it’s a lot easier to get calls returned from the staffer’s colleagues — especially subordinates — if they know it’s an opportunity to suck up to the subject.

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