Here's Ari Fleischer on the White House view of the press in The New Republic:
[T]he Bush administration does not regard the media as having a special role but rather as just "one of several constituencies to deal with," says former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. "It doesn't set them apart as more important." This more dispassionate view gives Team Bush greater freedom to play hardball, refusing access and info that it feels aren't in its best interest to provide or, in more extreme cases, shutting out outlets or reporters with whom it is displeased. Guilt isn't a problem because, from the Bushie perspective, the mainstream media serves as an unwelcome liberal--or at least hostile--filter on information that the campaign thinks Americans should know. (This is, after all, the president who boasts that he doesn't trust newspapers and so relies on his staff to tell him what's really happening in the world.) In this White House, stiffing the press isn't seen as thwarting the public interest so much as serving it.
This is the argument we made in All the President's Spin, which goes back to Ken Auletta's New Yorker piece on the White House. Bush and his staff don't believe the press has any special democratic function, and feel no particular obligation to answer questions or provide information, as Andy Card told Auletta:
"They don't represent the public any more than other people do. In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election... I don’t believe you have a check-and-balance function."
Meanwhile, as Michelle Cottle, who wrote the TNR piece, points out, Democrats have a strange and often pathetic obsession with being liked by the press that translates into excessive appeals to reporters and leaking to them (see: the Clinton White House). Isn't there a happy medium here?