It's good to be Tim Rosaforte today
As we all know by now, President Obama played golf with Tiger Woods down in Florida today.
The news of this presidential pairing – Obama and Woods played with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, who also owns the private Floridian yacht and golf club, where Obama is spending the three-day Presidents Day holiday – was broken Sunday morning by Tim Rosaforte, who writes for Golf World and also appears on the Golf Channel.
In his dual roles, Rosaforte has become one of golf's most visible and valuable chroniclers – I'd rank him among the top five golf writers working today. He's also a nice guy – though he didn't make any friends among the White House press corps this weekend by scooping them so thoroughly.
Having lived in Washington, D.C., for almost two decades and having worked in both Congress and the government-covering media for several years, I know all too well that nothing irks the reporters who cover the White House like not having access to the President. In situations like today, reporters generally aren't allowed to accompany the golfers in an attempt to give them a modicum of privacy to enjoy their round – presidents sometimes allow media to tag along, but usually not.
And in fact, this weekend, the traveling press corps has been confined to what The Washington Post described as a ''party bus'' while Obama has been on-site at The Floridian. However, Rosaforte got access to the pro shop – not exactly riding in the cart with Obama and Woods, but way better than where the White House reporters have been stranded.
That, as you might suspect, has caused some hard feelings among the political scribes – who apparently haven't even laid eyes on Obama – especially after Rosaforte tweeted about Woods meeting up with Obama on the practice range and then beginning their round a little later.
''For much of this outing, the small contingent of the White House press corps accompanying Obama has lobbied with little success for more information about where precisely on the Floridian grounds the president is staying, who he is staying with, and how much contact he has with other people on the grounds,'' wrote Scott Wilson on The Washington Post's 'Post Politics' blog Sunday afternoon. ''A photo of Obama on the course with someone as famous as Woods is commonly a moment the 'traveling pool' of about a dozen journalists is allowed to witness. White House officials declined to allow that Sunday.''
Because the President's motorcade hasn't left the compound, White House officials explained, there was no reason for the pool to track the President's activities or to know who he is spending time with on a personal vacation. That is an argument often respected by the White House press corps, Wilson wrote, except this time Obama isn't staying in a private home.
''The debate over access had grown near-Talmudic in its intensity and detail,'' Wilson wrote. Rosaforte's presence ''prompted a sharp complaint from the White House Correspondents' Association over the way this trip — and Sunday's outing, in particular — has been handled by the administration in a way that has rendered it largely hidden from the traveling press.''
And, unsaid, is the fact that Rosaforte tweeted out the news of Tiger's presence at The Floridian and his round with Obama well before anyone in the White House press corps could do anything about it.
I haven't spoken to Rosaforte about how he found out about the Obama-Woods pairing or how he got better access than the White House reporters, but at this point it doesn't matter. He's the undisputed heavyweight champion of the golf journalists' world today.