While NBC and CBS both highlighted a quote from an anonymous senior White House official labeling President Obama's recent budget meetings with members of Congress "a joke," ABC managed to leave the controversial remark out of its coverage of the budget negotiations, with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos even failing to ask the President about it in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
In a National Journal article posted Tuesday morning, Ron Fournier recounted: "'This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we're doing it for you.'"
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell alluded to the quote: "And while there's some criticism that the personal diplomacy might be about media attention, Democrats tell me they are happy for the face time."
On Wednesday's Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker made direct reference to the comments and the White House distancing itself from them:
WELKER: But beyond the smiles, not everyone at the White House is happy about the meetings. The National Journal reports an anonymous senior White House officially called the meetings, "a joke," and said, "I hope you all in the media are happy because we're doing it for you."
JAY CARNEY [WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY]: I have no idea who said that. But I can tell you that opinion has never been voiced in my presence, in the President's presence, in the West Wing.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes similarly reported:
CORDES: Not all of the President's aides feel that way. An unnamed senior White House official told the National Journal – quote, 'This is a joke. We're wasting the President's time and ours'. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney disavowed the comments.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (from press briefing): I can tell you that opinion has never been voiced in my presence; in the President's presence; in the West Wing. It does not represent the President's view. It does not represent the White House's view.
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, before his softball interview with Obama, Stephanopoulos cheered the President's "charm offensive."