Remember last November, when, during the heat of the battle for the Democrats’ presidential nomination, the Hillary campaign created a scandal by planting a question at a campaign “town hall” meeting?
At yesterday’s press conference, President Obama, desperate to turn the tide on recent negative news coverage, reverted to the discredited and disreputable practice of planting questions.
Dana Milbank describes Obama’s plant in the clever, “Stay Tuned for More of ‘The Obama Show.'” You can read the details below. Most important is Milbank’s blowing the whistle on this latest Obama abuse:
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.
Planting questions is dishonest and inexcusable. This despicable conduct just reinforces the perception that Obama’s permanent campaign is manipulative and schemes to bend the rules in order obtain his goals. You know,m like that old, tired and wrong-headed idiom the ends justify the means.
To make sure there was no mistake, Obama planted more than one questioner at The Obama Show Obama’s press conference. Perhaps Obama was trying to demonstrate that two wrongs do not make a right.
Here are the details of Obama’s plants as revealed by Millbank:
After the obligatory first question from the Associated Press, Obama treated the overflowing White House briefing room to a surprise. “I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post,” he announced.
Obama knew this because White House aides had called Pitney the day before to invite him, and they had escorted him into the room. They told him the president was likely to call on him, with the understanding that he would ask a question about Iran that had been submitted online by an Iranian. “I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet,” Obama went on. “Do you have a question?”
Pitney recognized his prompt. “That’s right,” he said, standing in the aisle and wearing a temporary White House press pass. “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”
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.
[. . .]
During the eight years of the Bush administration, liberal outlets such as the Huffington Post often accused the White House of planting questioners in news conferences to ask preplanned questions. But here was Obama fielding a preplanned question asked by a planted questioner — from the Huffington Post.
Pitney said the White House, though not aware of the question’s wording, asked him to come up with a question about Iran proposed by an Iranian. And, as it turned out, 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.
Will the main stream media continue yesterday’s revival of its watchdog role? A role that has been severly neglected in the coverage of candidate and President Obama. Will the MSM take Obama to task for this transgression? Or will this remain an outrage covered only by Milbank and citizen journalists?
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