- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

CALGARY, Alberta The Bush administration went out of its way 60 miles out, in fact to isolate and infuriate U.S. reporters covering the G-8 summit, sowing ill will that appears unlikely to fade anytime soon.
Frustration boiled over among reporters, who were all but shut out of a three-day meeting among leaders of eight of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world. Even the most mild-mannered White House correspondents were angered by a summit beset by logistical errors and lack of interest among low-level Bush staffers.
"It was only a matter of time, perhaps, but what passes for White House coverage these days has finally devolved into a Lewis Carroll absurdity in which White House correspondents can travel on a three-day foreign trip and never once lay eyes on the president not even if they draw a 12-hour pool assignment," wrote Bob Deans of Cox News Service, the soft-spoken president of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Mr. Deans, who spent a dozen hours seeking news as the only print representative allowed insider access at the remote village where leaders of the Group of Eight were meeting, summed up the exasperation that reached new heights on a foreign trip that began for reporters at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Correspondents learned late Monday that President Bush would stop midway in Arizona to view raging wildfires in the West. A chartered plane carrying U.S. media was rescheduled to put reporters in place that place being a filing center in Calgary to watch Mr. Bush on television.
So began days of TV watching for all reporters not given insider access to the meetings of G-8 leaders in Kananaskis village. Briefings at least those not canceled at the last minute by "senior administration officials" were piped in from the remote Canadian Rockies site. On the final day yesterday, a low-level Bush staffer simply cut off the audio feed, leaving reporters 60 miles away in Calgary unable to ask questions.
"This has been, without a doubt, the worst-run event in my experience," said a veteran White House reporter who asked not to be named. "The credibility of this administration has gone right down the tubes with this fiasco, and I venture to say they will pay mightily for their shabby treatment of the U.S. media, whose job it is to deliver to the American people the policies of their own government."
Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer briefed reporters only once during the summit.
Another reporter said the administration's treatment of the press went from bad to worse and that Mr. Fleischer was the prime offender.
"There is a certain arrogance, I think because their approval ratings are so high," the correspondent said. "That attitude poisons the relationship, and I think the press is at the breaking point. No one in the White House has credibility anymore. It's disgusting."



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