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Escalation: White House Tries to Exclude Fox From Press Pool Interview

8:15 PM, Oct 22, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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The White House sent out an alert today to the press pool that "Pay Czar" Kenneth Feinberg would be doing a press availability- a round robin with the major news networks, in which Fox is customarily included. The administration specified that everyone was invited except Fox News, according to Bret Baier on "Special Report" tonight.

The press pool, acting in the interest of its members, admirably stood up to the White House bullying. All the other networks declared that if Fox was not getting an interview, they would not be conducting interviews. The White House responded by cutting Feinberg's time with the networks from five minutes to two minutes.

The White House can dole out access to various administration officials, to be sure, but when dealing with the actual press pool, it has to deal with the White House Press Association-the independent group of journalists charged with looking out for WH reporters' best interests in covering the executive branch. That's much trickier than just talking trash about Fox on TV.

Gibbs seemed to recognize that fact on Tuesday, when he was asked about the Fox News battle by Politico:

Carol E. Lee, Politico: Does that mean the White House doesn't believe they should be part of the press pool?

Gibbs: The press pool is decide by the White House Correspondents Association.

Lee: So you have no opinion on whether they should be ...

Gibbs: I'm not going to delineate for the White House Correspondents Association how the pool is conducted. That's not my job.

Today it is, apparently. Is there a word for how petty this is?