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Correspondents On The Couch

In the aftermath of the White House pressroom drama that saw press secretary Scott McClellan and reporters re-enacting scenes from grade school playgrounds of their pasts, there has been a lot of talk about the relationship between the media and the administration. Even before this latest incident over Vice President Cheney's accidental shooting, former White House press secretary Mike McCurry was publicly questioning the value of televising the daily briefing (even though it was he who instituted that practice).

Covering the White House has to be one of the more frustrating jobs for a reporter because, let's face it, information doesn't exactly flood out of any administration and it barely trickles out of the current one. The gig ensures plenty of air-time and bylines but most often, it's more a chronicle of events than anything else. Still, this morning's Katharine Seelye article in The New York Times offers up one of the more, um, unique explanations of why the press briefings sometimes become so confrontational:

Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington who said she had counseled several White House correspondents, said the last few years had given rise to "White House reporter syndrome," in which competitive high achievers feel restricted and controlled and become emotionally isolated from others who are not steeped in the same experience.

She said the syndrome was evident in the Cheney case, which she described as an inconsequential event that produced an outsize feeding frenzy. She said some reporters used the occasion to compensate for not having pressed harder before the Iraq war.

"It's like any post-traumatic stress," she said, "like when someone dies and you think you could have saved them."

"White House reporter syndrome?" The doctor is in.