Robert Gibbs gave White House reporters a “strong A” Friday for their work over the first 100 days of the new administration.
Their report card on him is more mixed.
Although White House reporters praise some aspects of President Barack Obama’s press shop, there’s grumbling about Gibbs’ handling of the daily press briefings, where a handful of television correspondents dominate; griping about press management on the president’s European trip; and complaints about Gibbs’ tendency not to return e-mail messages.
And for a team that rode to Washington on a lot of talk about “transparency,” reporters said in interviews with POLITICO this week that the Obama White House has been awfully opaque.
“I guess it depends what your definition of the word ‘transparent’ is,” said Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC News.
Adds Wall Street Journal White House reporter Jonathan Weisman: “I think by the press’ definition, they have not been transparent at all.”
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Gibbs Likes The “Attack Dog” Role
Jim Cramer. Rush Limbaugh. Rick Santelli.
What do they all have in common? Most likely, none of them is getting invited to the White House Christmas party.
All three media personalities have been singled out by President Obama’s press shop in the course of less than two weeks. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in doing so, has shown an unusual willingness to spar with cable and radio hosts who take shots at his boss.
The rebuttals have ranged from playful ribbing to disdainful scolding.
Talk show host Limbaugh has drawn the most ire from the White House. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called him out on Sunday for saying he wants Obama to fail, after Obama told Republican lawmakers not to listen to people like Limbaugh several weeks ago.
Gibbs followed up Monday, calling on conservative pundits to challenge Limbaugh on air.
“Do they want to see the president’s economic agenda fail? You know, I bet there are a number of guests on television throughout the day and maybe into tomorrow who could let America know whether — whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend,” Gibbs said. But then he took a shot at those who applauded Limbaugh during his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington over the weekend.
“You know, I’d like to think, and I think most people would like to think, that we can put aside our differences and get things done for the American people. We’ll say, in watching a few cable clips of Mr. Limbaugh’s speech, his notion of presidential failures seemed to be quite popular in the room in which he spoke,” he said.
Gibbs repeated his call for Republicans to speak up on whether they agree with Limbaugh Tuesday. Limbaugh has said that while he wants Obama to fail, he doesn’t want the economy to fail.