Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"You! You there! The man with the piece of White House stationary with my writing on it! Do you have a question for me?"

Curiously absent at any of the local liberal/progressive blog watering holes is any coverage of the Nico-Pitney-planted-question controversy.

I'm sure cutting on Mark Sanford is a lot more fun, and there's been serious work to do covering the Delaware budget crisis and the death of Thurman Adams, but....

[He said with a sense of assumed whimsy:] You do kind of wonder exactly how they'd explain this one as no big deal.

I think the long piece in the New York Times [which you should read completely] sums it up best:

The problem is not just that Mr. Pitney, for just one day, was afforded a cherished seat in the room or given an airing for his question. And no one is diminishing his work that has drawn accolades for his devoted attention to an issue. Rather, the criticism is that he was cherry-picked, with a call-upon hours and hours beforehand, and handed a status that no one among the so-called elite of the press corps receives on any given day.

While that may indeed be a thorn in the feet of the corps who toil daily, the perception of a favored one who got exceptionally advance notice may send signals — far and wide — as to what lengths the administration will go to stage and control the message the president wants to send.

That is what has gotten lost in all the old vs. new media antagonisms. It’s not about Mr. Pitney’s work or for that matter, the question he asked. It’s about how the administration finagled the position in which he became an actor for the president’s agenda.


My best guess, by the way, is that our local adherents would say it is about time a Democratic President played media/spin hardball the same way the ReThugs do.

But I guess I'd just love to hear them spin it in their own words.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe nobody cares because it clearly wasn't a "planted question."

The White House told a reporter that he might get called on. So?

Did the White House write the question as your headline dishonestly implies? No.

Are the regular White House Press corp prima donnas upset at this because some "blogger" was called on instead of them? Probably.

Is that why this is a story? Yes.

Are Steve Newton's critical thinking skill out to lunch tonight? I think so.

anonone

Anonymous said...

I see the limp rationalizations have begun.

I'm not surprised there's no mention of this over at DeLib, as they're preoccupied with bashing Bush/Palin/conservative du jour, etc, to acknowledge what an utter disappointment their president is. I'm further surprised anyone is still surprised that President Obama choreographs his press events. He's been doing it ever since he was nominated. The softball and planted questions help mitigate the occasional hardball questions he occasionally gets, such as the one he stumbled over when asked by Major Garrett.

The Washington Post has an insightful piece on the issue:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/23/AR2009062303262.html

Steve Newton said...

A1--about the title--obviously your sense of humor is AWOL tonight, or else you're really touchy.

The White House told the reporter he would get called on so he could ask a specific type of question. Show me where that's ever been accepted practice.

The blogger issue is crap and you know it. Both NYT and WaPo dispense with it.

The story is exactly what the NYT said: President Obama's blatant attempt to subvert the independence of the White House press corps by using an inexperienced blogger to do what no major service reporter would have done.

What? Is it simply impossible for you to admit that the man over-reached?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

You wrote:

"The White House told the reporter he would get called on so he could ask a specific type of question. Show me where that's ever been accepted practice."

You're joking here, right?

Bush used to have the questions given to him in advance and Rove choreographed who he was going to call and in what order.

And you might want to research "Jeff Gannon" a male prostitute who was used as a ringer in Bush's and his Press Secretary's press conferences. Here, I'll help you:

ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Gannon

This story is all about the prima donna White House press corps being afraid that bloggers are going to steal their cocktail weanies at the White House parties. Well, boo hoo.

Oh and WaPo? Yes, they did dispense with the "blogger issue" in one way - they fired their most liberal and well-respected blogger, Dan Froomkin. That liberal media...

By the way, Obama has over-reached and under-reached in many many ways for me. I'll do more than admit it; I'll scream it. But this ain't one of 'em.

anonone

Bowly said...

Steve: "My best guess, by the way, is that our local adherents would say it is about time a Democratic President played media/spin hardball the same way the ReThugs do."

A1: "Bush used to have the questions given to him in advance and Rove choreographed who he was going to call and in what order."

Steve wins the prize. Unfortunately there is no prize.

Tyler Nixon said...

Well said, Bowly. There's no satisfaction much less a prize in knowing the president is a manipulative over/under-reacher.

You just have to love the fallback position of the angry left that two wrongs make a right.

All the stinky garbage being troweled out by this duplicitous administration is to be overlooked or accepted because : "Bush did it too!"

So tiring.

Anonymous said...

Actually no, I am not trying to justify anything. I don't think that what happened was wrong, and it certainly wasn't a "planted question."

Steve asked for previous examples of where it was an accepted practice for a reporter was told he "would get called on so he could ask a specific type of question," so I did.

There are lots of so-called "accepted practices" the the White House lap dog press corps expect such as that the Big Three network reporters will always get to ask a question and if they're nice, maybe they'll get to dance (literally) with Karl Rove a la David Gregory at the WH press corp dinner.

But now, with their old media gravy train threatened by (gasp) citizen-bloggers, they react with stories like this one, which "make the trivial important and the important trivial."

Was there a story in the NYT or WaPo asking why Iraq or Afghanistan weren't even mentioned in the 55 minute news conference? That is a much bigger story, IMHO.

The cozy relationship between the national press corps and federal government officials is a huge part of the problem. As atrios pointed out; the press is supposed to disclose unnamed sources who lie to them,but they never do.

And I am already on record wanting a different dem in 2012. Obama has been a huge disappointment so far.

anonone

Another Mike said...

I was hoping these kind of shenanigans left the WH with the Bush administration, but it is apparent they did not. As an Obama supporter and a believer in a free press, I'm disappointed.

I admit I've been underwhelmed by the new president thus far, but I'm going to let his term play out before I declare him a failure.

But I do think Anon 1 has a point about the traditional journalists feeling threatened by bloggers and disparaging them when given the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Tyler, I think that there is much more of a disappointment among liberals that Obama is doing some of the same despicable things that the Bush administration did. In other words, "it is the same thing Bush did" is said much more often in frustration with Obama's unwillingness to change Bush's policies than in justification for those same policies.

I hadn't seen you post much around here lately; I hope you're OK.

anonone

Anonymous said...

"...the the White House lap dog press corps expect such as that the Big Three network reporters will always get to ask a question and if they're nice,..."

The president already has the press in his lap. He obviously wants more, so he invited the HuffPo to hump his leg.

Miscreant

Bowly said...

Steve asked for previous examples of where it was an accepted practice for a reporter was told he "would get called on so he could ask a specific type of question," so I did.

By the way, the word "accepted" means something. In the cases you mentioned, did everyone say, "Oh yeah, that's no problem"? I assure stinks were made about all of them. You're still raising them. You're not wrong. And Steve's not wrong this time.

phillies said...

Barack the bright but clueless is about to get his reward for all this, namely reporters from the traditional media are going to give him aggressive questioning rather than lapdog questioning. That's what America needs, and that's what he is going to get. At a guess, he can expect this for the next eight years.

On the positive side, it is possible that prominent newsblogs are going to start to be recognized as legitimate news sources allowed reportorial positions at press conferences. One can imagine someone from Daily Kos and someone from the matching conservative site appearing.

You are perfectly right though, based on the coverage I have seen, that it was a planted question. This is Obama once again copying a Bush innovation, except Bush's surrogate in the press conference was apparently not a legitimate reporter; he is alleged to have had ties to a far older profession.

Anonymous said...

So you don't think that the thin-skinned Washington Press Corps think themselves a bunch of prima donnas? How about WaPo's Dana Milbank calling Nico Pitney "a dick" after a joint interview on Howie Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” segment on CNN today:

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/06/28/milbank-pitney/

If you think the "we know better than you" Washington Press corps isn't a bunch of suck-ups ready to use the last shreds of their dying industry to attack anybody that isn't one of them, you're wrong.

The article you cite here is exactly such an attack.

anonone