A press briefing between reporters and White House press secretary Josh Earnest got testy Monday as reporters pushed back against the White House’s criticism of a Washington Post story for relying on anonymous administration sources.
“The lead of that story is hooked entirely to anonymous sources,” Earnest said of the Post report that Obama aides were warned of coming influx Central American minors into the United States. “That’s just a fact.”
“You criticize anonymous sources, but we have anonymous sources from you all every day. In fact, I think we have a call today. How can you criticize that when that’s all you give us everyday except for the briefing,” McClatchy White House reporter Anita Kumar said.
Earnest replied the White House was committed to doing an on-the-record briefing every day.
“You’re also committed to anonymous sources. I’m just saying a reporter interjected.”
Earnest said reporters should give anonymous sources “a little less weight” because they were speaking anonymously. He added the problem with the Post story was it gives greater weight to outside anonymous sources than on-the-record sources in the White House.
Asked about why White House calls with reporters in which they roll out new policies the White House officials are kept anonymous, Earnest said he would commit to reevaluating the process.
“What I will commit to is a case-by-case evaluation of the background, or the ground rules of each of these kinds of calls. And a commitment to an open dialogue with you about the ground rules that will serve your interests and the White House interests the best.”
The fact was also pointed out by the New York Times White House reporter Peter Baker on Twitter:
The White House today has a call with reporters and “Senior White House Officials” on jobs training programs.