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Bad News For Helen Thomas Groupies?

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten "might stop allowing its daily news briefing to be televised in full in hopes of discouraging posturing for the cameras and toning down the confrontational atmosphere":
Bolten said he would leave it up to new press secretary Tony Snow to decide whether to reverse that. "It's worth considering," Bolten said. "I think that will be Tony Snow's first test to see what kind of power player he really is and whether he's able to establish the right kind of relationship with the press that we need going forward."
Would banning the cameras be a good idea? Not according to the Moderate Voice, Joe Gandelman:
Note to Mr. Bolten: the fact is that televised press briefings are now a part of the political/news media culture — and they have been for many years.

If you decide to end them now when the President's poll numbers are languishing it will be widely interpreted, perceived and portrayed as a sign that the White House is going into hiding mode — trying to avoid the public scrutiny that voters see when they watch a press spokesman stand up to tough (if at times inane and lack-of-follow-up) questioning.

But the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes disagrees. One of his pieces of advice for Snow:
Ban TV cameras from the daily White House briefings for the press. These events have turned the press room into a battleground and the press is winning. Reporters grandstand and showboat and hector. They ask questions that won't elicit information, but may make them look tough. The effect is to make the White House look far more embattled than it really is.
I have a feeling that many reporters wouldn't mind seeing the cameras go. After all, the press corps sometimes ends up looking just as bad as – or worse than – the administration when the exchanges get particularly heated, as NBC's David Gregory learned recently when he got into it with Scott McClellan and subsequently apologized. Of course, reporters are not going to be the ones making the decision. But if Snow is as in tune to the press corps as everyone seems to think, their feelings on the matter could well be a factor in his decision.


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