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Media panel critical of 'low expectations' in Bush coverage

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A panel examining media issues concluded Monday that coverage of the Bush administration has been affected by reporters with "low expectations" in their view of the White House.

Six panelists with Boston University's Washington Journalism Center on Monday applauded the Bush administration's management of the media during its first 100 days, but criticized the fourth estate for its apparent preoccupation with the outgoing Clinton administration.

One result, according to panelist and former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, is that the media have "been managed quite well by the Bush political people."

Lockhart said even after the inauguration, there was an "obsession with following what Clinton was doing." He said that allowed an "opportunity for the new president and his staff to figure out where everything was in a way that if they did make mistakes they didn't get a lot of attention."

Besides Lockhart, the panel included Tucker Eskew, Deputy Assistant to the President in the current Bush administration; Washington Post national political reporter Thomas Edsall; historian Robert Dallek; U.S. News and World Report Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth Walsh; and Wall Street Journal Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib.

Members of the panel agreed that the Bush administration is far more restrictive with the flow of information from the White House compared to the Clinton administration.

But Edsall, a veteran political reporter for the Washington Post, gave the administration kudos for its managing of the press corps.

He said, "You really have to give the Bush administration extraordinary credit for its media operations during these first hundred days, not in terms of good relations necessarily but well managed relations. They have succeeded in gaining credibility under very difficult, trying times with not a strong base to come in to office on."

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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