Riddle Us This: Dan Bartlett's Free Pass
The mainstream media regularly decries the Bush White House's communications problem. Much of the blame used to go to poor Scott McClellan, just replaced by Tony Snow as press secretary. Some of the attacks on Scotty were so harsh -- e.g., Michael Wolff's Vanity Fair article -- that you couldn't help feeling bad for the guy (at least a little).
What we'd like to know is: Why doesn't White House Counselor Dan Bartlett, who oversees communications, get similarly harsh treatment from the press? Bartlett has more real control over the Administration's communications strategy than McClellan ever did. So why does Bartlett get so little attention -- and so little blame -- when the MSM picks apart the ineffective White House press operation?
Here's one possibility: reporters don't want to alienate Dan Bartlett because they value him as a source. Bartlett is often charged with speaking to the media on background, and when a "senior administration official" is quoted in an article, he's often the official in question. Because reporters value the White House access that Bartlett provides, they don't want to antagonize him by blaming him for the Administration's inability to communicate.
Take this all with more than a grain of salt; this is just our speculation on a curious situation. As always, we welcome your thoughts.
Dan Bartlett Bio [White House]
Words Fail Him [Vanity Fair]