The first half of this week’s Howard Kurtz olumn in the Washington Post reads like a listing of White House press secretary Dana Perino’s recent (and/or most memorable) beefs with reporters. One example (lest you think a lame duck administration’s press secretary might be taking it easy in the final weeks):

On Thursday, she complained to CNN after anchor Rick Sanchez showed video of foreign leaders shaking hands with each other but not with Bush. “He seems like the most unpopular kid in high school that nobody liked, the one with the cooties,” Sanchez said. Perino says the president had shaken hands with the leaders earlier. CNN says his show will air a clarification today.

Kurtz quotes Mark Knoller, White House reporter for CBS News, calling Perino “affable and amiable and pleasant” (although, Kurtz notes, “the White House has paid a price for her politeness” in that “confrontational briefings make news”). Also from Knoller: “The thing is, [Perino] doesn’t hold grudges.”

Oh, but Perino did feel

burned in July when Agence France Presse reported that she was “disappointed” by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Iraq from the summer games. Perino actually said she was disappointed for the Iraqi athletes. “It was like wildfire,” Perino recalls. “How do you correct every single story once it’s online?”

Also: Perino thinks, per Kurtz, that “the rise of the blogging culture has damaged journalism.”


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.