As some media outlets and pundits typically allied with the Obama administration seem to take a tougher tone toward the White House, Gibbs is telegraphing the message that on certain issues, they shouldn't ask and on others, he won't tell.
The tension may be reaching new heights. CBS correspondent Chip Reid revealed on air Friday that White House officials called reporters into the West Wing on Friday to scold them for asking too many questions about the Gulf of Mexico spill. One report identified Gibbs as the one doing the scolding.
The dressing-down came after the press secretary faced a barrage of questions about why the administration wasn't doing more to ensure the leak is plugged and mitigate the environmental damage to the coastline. The White House for weeks has battled the narrative that it has not responded forcefully enough to the spill, entrusting too much to the expertise of BP, and at Friday's briefing Gibbs repeatedly swiped at reporters who pressed that button.
It's become cliche, so let me apologize ahead of time. Can you imagine if the Bush administration held a closed door meeting in which reporters were scolded for asking questions the administration didn't like? How long would that meeting be on the front pages of the New York Times?
Can you imagine the moral outrage from pundits and columnists directed at the Bush White House if this situation were reversed? Yet, this story has garnered scant attention. In fact, the White House is brow beating reporters because they dare to do their jobs. This is an outrageous fit of hubris. The White House believes that if they don't like the questions being asked they can scold, privately, the questioners.
What of all the reporters that were in the room? Did any object and ask the White House under what authority they felt entitled to dress them down because the questions were too tough? Why wasn't this meeting the next report from most of them?
The public has a right to know when a White House so overtly bullies those charged with covering them. Yet, this story gets buried. The White House continues its heavy handed tactics and no one seems to care.