Although often thought of as the most prestigious beat in political journalism, the White House is increasingly seen as a newsless land of “stenographers” — a dead end for young, ambitious reporters hoping to carve out a niche, and a constant target of criticism by the partisan public. Veteran members of the White House press corps bristle at the criticisms, even as they acknowledge the beat has lost some of its allure as the obstacles have increased.
Peter Baker, who covers the White House for the New York Times and was a correspondent there for the Washington Post during the Clinton years, said that for journalists comfortable in the chaos of Capitol Hill, the transition to Pennsylvania Ave. can produce something akin to culture shock.
“It’s not a place that’s easy to generate real scoops. Unlike on Capitol Hill, where you can roam freely and find 535 generally willing sources, plus hundreds of aides, lobbyists and others, in the White House you face physical and information constraints that make it hard to break out,” Baker, who has been a central figure in the coverage of a Times-reading president, told BuzzFeed. “It can be frustrating and soul-killing to listen to the same talking points and spin sessions day after day.”