Treasury Department Denies it Tried to Exclude Fox News From Interviews

foxlogoWe reported earlier that when Fox News was banned from a round-robin interview with Obama administration “Pay Czar” Kenneth Feinberg, the bureau chiefs of the other major networks banded together to thwart the White House. Now, Mediaite has learned exclusively that the Treasury Department, who set up the interviews, denies the story.

A Treasury Department spokesperson tells Mediaite the following:

There was no plot to exclude Fox News, and they had the same interview that their competitors did. Much ado about absolutely nothing.

Reporting on the story has been sketchy thus far, with Fox News being the only network to report it so far. In their report, they also fail to make it clear that it was the Treasury Department, not the White House, who was responsible for setting up the interviews. Neither Fox News nor the Treasury Department has provided copies of the bulletins that were sent to the press pool, which Politico reports were missing Fox’s name. Politico also reports that Treasury contacted the White House about the omission, and in a statement, the White House told Politico “The fact that Major Garrett conducted and interview with Ken Feinberg at a time when all the other networks did speaks for itself…”

TV Newser points out, via an anonymous source, that a decision by the other nets to skip the interviews may have been more financial than principled:

The pool is paid for by and rotates between ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC, allowing each network to do quick interviews using the same camera crew. If the White House were to exclude one of the members, the other networks would have to provide their own crew for the interview.

As yet, none of the other network bureau chiefs has gone on record to corroborate Fox’s reporting. We have made inquiries with several of them, and are awaiting a response.

We have also contacted Fox News about Treasury’s statement, and are awaiting a response.

Update: The CBS Evening News ran a segment on this story tonight, including a snippet of a Chip Reid White House standup in which Reid says, “All the networks said that’s it, you’ve crossed the line.”

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