The infamous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil may have spotted his shadow yesterday signifying an early spring but it remains to be seen how quickly relations thaw between the press corps and the White House.
People around the world have been watching the reports of tens of thousands of Egyptians flooding the streets of Cairo calling for a regime change. The White House response to the clash between anti-government protestors and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak has been guarded, making few statements on what is being called a major foreign policy crisis.
Left without substantive updates on the situation in Egypt and shut out from the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the White House Correspondents Association sent a letter to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs complaining that “for two straight days the full press pool is being shut out of events that have typically been open and provided opportunities try to ask the President a question.”
The letter, written by WHCA Executive Director Julia Whitson, was sent in advance of the President’s signing of the New START Treaty, the new nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia.
“We are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the White House’s decision to close the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and his signing of the START Treaty today to the full press pool.
The START treaty was held up as one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year dating back to the trip to Prague last spring. We are concerned that now his signing of it is open to still photographers but closed to editorial, including print and wire reporters and television cameras.” Read the full letter at mediabistro.com.
In the end, the White House stuck by its decision and allowed only a small group of photographers into the Oval Office for the signing of the treaty.
As reported in The Hill, Gibbs said the decision to keep reporters out of the signing was based on fear they would shout questions to the President about Egypt, and continued to defend the decision by stating it was “part of the coverage plans that have been in place for a bit now.”
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, March 20th is the first day of spring…