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I am old enough to remember the staged question at a Bush/Gore debate in 2000: “when you laughed about an execution the last debate you didn’t mean to sound callous, did you?”

W wasn’t as dependent on TOTUS but he was calling his stooges in the wrong order – or was reading out loud stage directions at press conferences. And who can forget Jeff Gannon?

But now that we finally have the 11 dimensional chess player in the White House – shouldn’t he be able to answer unprepared question from his otherwise supine media?

Politico – which had been left to starve for attention lately – tells us the story:

In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran.

“Nico, I know you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming out of Iran,” Obama said, addressing Pitney.  “I know there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?”

Pitney, as if ignoring what Obama had just said, said: “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”

Oh, come on guys! You had your phone conference ahead of time – you could have used a little bit of rehearsal. Rules are simple – Obama names a “random” reporter, the preset question is asked. Obama shouldn’t have to foreshadow the question – or if he did, reporter should just follow up. Get it? All this could have been set in that conversation

“Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney says the WH called him this morning and invited him to ask his Iran questions at the news conference.”

One Politico reader comments

At least someone can see through all this transparency.


I see Dana Milbank at WaPo too on this story as well, and with a fetching title no less

Stay Tuned for More of ‘The Obama Show’

Millbank seems to have been in the room and ads some personal impressions

Pitney asked his arranged question. Reporters looked at one another in amazement at the stagecraft they were witnessing. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grinned at the surprised TV correspondents in the first row.

To which I wonder: why were the reporters amazed again? haven’t they seen all this with W? Haven’t they perpetuated and enhanced it since the establishment decided Jr.jr was to be “elected”?

Millbank notices the obvious

The use of planted questioners is a no-no at presidential news conferences, because it sends a message to the world — Iran included — that the American press isn’t as free as advertised. But yesterday wasn’t so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, “The Obama Show.”

Indeed, considering that the press conference was called for some stern lecturing to Iran, the irony is thick.

And I am confused about the “but”. Was some entertainment value Millbank perceived that somewhat stood for the free press? Or rather he made the point that there was no press there at all, just impersonators?

Because in that case, the question would be – where is the free press?

And considering other pre-arranged questions we find out, it makes one wonder if any of the questions were spontaneous

he was not the only prearranged questioner at yesterday’s show. Later, Obama passed over the usual suspects to call on Macarena Vidal of the Spanish-language EFE news agency. The White House called Vidal in advance to see whether she was coming and arranged for her to sit in a seat usually assigned to a financial trade publication. She asked about Chile and Colombia.

As is the clue Millbank provides for Politico’s first coverage of this

“Mr. President!” yelled Mike Allen of Politico. “May I ask about Afghanistan? No questions about Iraq or Afghanistan?”Sorry: Those weren’t prearranged.

Good point. And no, Dana – it’s not Days of Our Lives. It’s propaganda. Any entertainment value you may have experienced, it can only come from the MSM nostalgia for the days when they were actually reporting stuff.

Believe me, we are not amused.

Not Your Sweetie

June 2009