Has the New York Times killed Obama staff profiles for everyone? There was an interesting aside dropped into yesterday’s long New York Times profile of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that suggests the press may no longer enjoy the sort of access to this White House it has become accustomed to. According to the Times our normally zen-like President was furious when Times Magazine profile of top adviser Valerie Jarrett scratched at her reportedly testy relationship with Emanuel.
[W]hen a New York Times Magazine profile of Ms. Jarrett last month explored the old scratchiness, White House officials said the normally calm Mr. Obama erupted with anger. An informal edict went out: no more cooperating with staff profiles. As a result, Mr. Emanuel declined a formal interview for this article.
Has the White House gone all Bush 43 on the press and become a closed off paranoid state unto itself? It seems unlikely. For one, a number of staffers participated in the profile of Emanuel — who, it should be noted, has enjoyed more profiling than any chief of staff in recent history. How much more do we need to know about Rahm? (He likes puppies, by the way). Clearly if David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and Peter Orszag are giving quotes to the Times the “informal edict” against the press is pretty informal. Maybe more like a Presidential time-out.
Also, who is there left to cover? As Politico’s Michael Calderone points out the Times has enjoyed plenty of White House access. Add to that the amount of unfiltered access the press, and the public, has via Twitter — can you imagine how Bush would have handled that? — combined with Obama’s “saturation” tactic what you are left with is a fairly accessible White House. It is sort of reassuring to know, however, that Obama is capable of erupting in anger once in a while.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org