“It’s not a place that’s easy to generate real scoops. Unlike on Capitol Hill, where you can roam freely and find 535 generally willing sources, plus hundreds of aides, lobbyists and others, in the White House you face physical and information constraints that make it hard to break out,” Baker, who has been a central figure in the coverage of a Times-reading president, told BuzzFeed. “It can be frustrating and soul-killing to listen to the same talking points and spin sessions day after day.”

But while the most common journalistic criticism of White House reporters is that they serve as “stenographers” for the administration — dutifully writing stories about whatever the press secretary chooses to talk about — Baker said the quality of coverage is more a function of the journalist than the building…

A more pressing problem, Thomma said, is that the White House now looks at the rise of social media and sees a way to circumvent reporters to get their message out. Meanwhile, the televised briefings — which have become a daily D.C. Twitter staple — tempt journalists to make their names by asking provocative questions that might produce viral footage.

“One of the things that has definitely changes in the years I’ve been doing it is the televising of the briefings,” he said. “It made the questioning by reporters part of a story. Much more so than it had ever been. So people started criticizing the questions and the way the questions were asked, regardless of what was in the the answers reporters were getting.”