White House reporters criticized President Obama on Wednesday for providing too little information and access to the media during the crisis in Egypt.
In a letter to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the White House Correspondents' Association said its reporters have been left in the dark too often in recent days.
“Prior to the president's statement Tuesday night, the press corps had not received a substantive update from the White House all day on the situation in Egypt,” the letter read. “In addition, the press corps did not have an on-camera briefing, or an off-camera gaggle, with you yesterday to ask the White House about its decision-making process during this major foreign policy crisis.
“Now 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 also took issue with the White House's decision to only allow a small group of photographers into the Oval Office on Wednesday when Obama signed the New START treaty.
“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,” the letter said. “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.”
Gibbs, who is preparing to leave his position this month, responded at Wednesday's daily briefing, saying that events in Egypt have been “fluid and dynamic” and that has made updates difficult.
“We'll continue to keep you up to date as best we can on what goes on, knowing, quite honestly, that some things in foreign policy have to be done away from TV cameras,” Gibbs said. “Those are the types of direct and frank talks that the president had last night with President Mubarak.”
Gibbs defended the decision to allow only photographers into the treaty signing Wednesday, saying those decisions are “part of the coverage plans that have been in place for a bit now.”
He insisted that the decision to keep reporters out of the signing was based on fear of reporters shouting questions about Egypt to Obama.