WATCHING U.S. presidents over the last 80 years, the one issue that they probably agree on is their relationship with the media. At best, it was mutual suspicion, a distaste (by most presidents) for candor; at worst, it was a highly contentious relationship.

What causes this environment of distrust? I believe it comes down to what the president knows (he receives a daily intelligence briefing) and what the media cannot be told. What the president hears and reads in those briefings is top secret and can only be discussed with those individuals having a clearance at the highest priority. I doubt that anyone in the media is cleared to see or hear top-secret information. What this scenario of the president knowing and the media only guessing leads to is a dichotomy which usually ends with a frustrated media and a steadfast president who cannot reveal what he knows because he is bound by the law. Not the most desired arrangement, but necessary.

Ephraim Levin, Philadelphia