Stolberg Revels in Bush's Fade, Says Press Fears What Liberal Bloggers Think

Are White House reporters taking cue from liberal bloggers? A bit near the end of Wednesday's "White House Memo" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "An Ebbing of Coverage With '08 on the Horizon," puts the idea out there.

White House correspondent Stolberg again reveled in portraying Bush as a fallen and failed president.

"Back when he was riding high in the polls, when his every utterance made headlines and the press planes trailing him around the country were still full, President Bush had little need to indulge reporters with ceremonial pleasantries.

"But that is what Mr. Bush intends to do Wednesday, when he cuts the ribbon for the renovated White House briefing room. It is the latest sign of how times have changed for a president who now must work to hold the attention of a press corps that often seems to have lost interest in him.

"The reopening of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named for the press secretary to President Ronald Reagan who took a gunman's bullet intended for his boss, marks another chapter in the always fraught relationship between this president and the news media. With the 2008 presidential campaign in full swing, Democrats running Congress and his domestic agenda in tatters after the defeat of his immigration bill, Mr. Bush is confronting the fact that he can no longer drive the news agenda as he once could."

The intriguingsuggestion comes near the end:

"Wednesday's ribbon-cutting is unlikely to merit front-page treatment, but it will bring the press corps, which has been operating in temporary quarters on Lafayette Square, back into the White House proper. The $8 million renovation ($6 million paid by taxpayers, the rest by news organizations) was not Mr. Bush's idea. It was that of his wife, Laura, who put her foot down after seeing the decrepit old briefing room, with wiring dangerously out of date.

"'She said: 'This won't do. Fix it,' ' Mr. Snow said.

"Mrs. Bush will help cut the ribbon. Yet with the White House press corps under attack from liberal bloggers as being too cozy with the Bush administration, some reporters say they feel a little bit queasy about attending. Mr. Snow said the president would not take questions, which poses a quandary for journalists uneasy about being seen with him at a purely ceremonial affair."

A shame that the White House press corps never feels similarly pressed when conservative bloggers accuse them of being biased against conservative politicians and ideas.