The White House Press Corps is the group of journalists stationed at the White House to cover the President and his staff. They have their own offices in the West Wing of the White House, travel with the President on Air Force One, and attend daily news briefings with the White House Press Secretary. Other opportunities to cover the President's activities include Presidential press conferences, photo ops, and occasional sit-down interviews. The Press Corps works closely with the Press Secretary, who controls their access to the President and the flow of information out of the White House. Because members of the press corps have a great deal of discretion in how they portray White House activities, the Press Secretary is highly motivated to maintain a good relationship with the Press Corps.
White House correspondents
There are likely several dozen correspondents assigned to the White House at any given time; about 50 correspondents appear to be in attendance at a typical briefing. When President Bartlet held a press conference about his multiple sclerosis, the number of reporters filled a large ballroom, suggesting that there are many more members of the Press Corps who do not attend most briefings (it is also possible, however, that many of those reporters were not part of the Press Corps).
Known White House correspondents include:
- Danny Concannon of The Washington Post
- Mark O'Donnell
- Katie Witt
- Arthur Leeds
- Harry (photographer)
Possible members include:
- Bill Kentworthy, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who questioned Sam Seaborn in the Pilot, but who has not been seen at press briefings
Relationship with President and White House staff
The relationship between the Press Corps and the President is delicate. The President relies on the press to publicize his administration's priorities, and to portray him in a positive light. As a result, the White House staff are very careful to avoid offending the press, and provide them with (carefully controlled) access to the President in the form of West Wing office space, seats on Air Force One, and occasionally, Presidential exclusives and press conferences. At the same time, they often find it necessary to conceal information from the press, and they must be firm in controlling the White House message.
The staff member with the closest relationship with the press is the White House Press Secretary. During C.J. Cregg's tenure as Press Secretary, she had a close, friendly relationship with the press, exchanging Christmas gifts, engaging in witty banter, and maintaining an open, transparent environment. She personally intervened to reunite a kidnapped former correspondent with his family, and even pursued a romantic relationship with Danny Concannon while he was working at the White House. She was often criticized for being too friendly with the Press Corps and for the undisciplined nature of her briefings; however, when Josh Lyman filled in for her, his attempt to "impose a little discipline" annoyed the press and resulted in a disastrous briefing.