D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has often left reporters laughing, but in recent weeks, he has also left them panting.
Along the way, the usually genial mayor has shown signs of anger and frustration as his approval rating has plummeted.
"Can you all back up some, please?" he asked reporters last week. "I can't even breathe."
"Can you get the microphone out of my face, sir?'" he barked at one journalist.
Days later, Gray batted away a series of probing questions about his "One City Action Plan" during a rowdy news conference and took few queries about other issues before heading to the exit and an elevator.
Mark Segraves, a reporter for WJLA-TV and WTOP-FM who is covering his third D.C. mayor and has reported on several local scandals, said the media's aggressive coverage of Gray is standard for elected officials facing criminal probes.
"Given the circumstances, this is not unusual," Segraves said. "I think that Kwame Brown, Harry Thomas and Jack Johnson all got the same kind of treatment."
Segraves said that, like the mayor, reporters have grown aggravated with Gray's unwillingness, on the advice of his counsel, to discuss the investigation.
"There's a lot of frustration on both sides," Segraves said. "I think the mayor and his staff are frustrated, and I think reporters are frustrated."
But as journalists have taken to a variety of platforms, especially Twitter, to complain about Gray's evasiveness, the mayor's office has begun to hit back.
Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said the administration didn't consciously launch an effort to highlight the mayor's availability to reporters.
"We didn't take any more of an aggressive approach this week than we have in the past," he said. "I think it was the other way around. It was the reporters who were being aggressive."
Ribeiro added that Gray remains as accessible as ever.
"The argument that he is somehow not open to reporters is laughable," he said.
Chuck Thies, a political consultant who has informally advised Gray and has criticized the media's treatment of the mayor, said Gray's combative approach may be one of his only options.
"I don't think there's many tools left in the bag," Thies said. "I don't know that it's a good strategy, but I don't know of any other strategy."