Credibility Gaps

From a San Francisco Chronicle editorial, “White House credibility gap on press coverage,” today:

The White House communications operation has a credibility problem. On Thursday, key people in that office told The Chronicle in plain language that reporter Carla Marinucci would be banished as a pool reporter for future presidential visits because she shot video of a protest inside an Obama fund-raising event in San Francisco. The White House further threatened “retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban,” said Editor Ward Bushee.

On Friday, the White House flat-out denied that such exchanges took place.

“Not true,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told when asked about the threat.

This is not a matter of spinning reality.

“It is not a truthful response,” Bushee said, bluntly.

President Obama should take a hard look at the staffing of his communications shop to assess whether he is well served by people who make threats off the record and then deny them the next day. Such bullying tactics and deceit may work with certain factions of the Washington press corps, but they don’t fly here.

Some might think the San Francisco Chronicle is getting exactly what it deserves.

From a San Francisco Chronicle editorial, “Why Obama is the choice,” October 17, 2008:

…. Obama showed steadiness in a moment of anxiety, with Americans’ portfolios withering and policymakers scrambling to do something – anything – to staunch the panic. The Illinois senator was similarly deliberative – in contrast with McCain’s quick-draw provocation – when Russia invaded Georgia in August.

In those crises, and in the hot lights of three debates, Obama demonstrated a presidential depth and temperament. His performance under the unrelenting scrutiny of the past 20 months has helped quell the “experience issue” for a 47-year-old senator who was elected in 2004.

Still, the breadth of the job of the presidency is such that even the most capable and experienced leader must rely on the advice and judgment of seasoned and specialized appointees. A president’s success is determined not only by his aptitude, instincts and communication skills – which Obama demonstrated throughout the campaign – but also by the quality of the advisers around him. Do they have the mettle to challenge a president? Does he have the self-confidence, and the trust in them, to encourage such challenges?

Will he fire them when they attempt to intimidate reporters, suppress politically inconvenient news, and then lie about it? Will the San Francisco Chronicle endorse him again if he doesn’t?

Say What?