Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Press Conference Shenanigans 

Yesterday I wrote to the New York Times ombudsman. I wanted to know if Ron Suskind's allegations about scripting were true.
According to Ron Suskind, "For each press conference, the White House press secretary asks the reporters for their questions, selects six or seven of the questions to answer and those reporters are the only ones called upon to ask their questions during the press conference."

Can you confirm or deny this practice? If it is true, do you feel that the press should inform the public that the press conferences are scripted? This would appear to be a betrayal of the public's trust.

Tony Wright
Iowa City, IA
His reply
Dear Mr. Wright,

I'm fairly certain that two reporters at the press conference asked unscripted questions.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Edtior
Unsatisfied with an incomplete reply, I pressed for more information.
Thank you for your quick reply.

Only two? Was the NYT reporter's question scripted?

Tony Wright
He replied two minutes later with this:
Dear Mr. Wright,

I am uncertain if Ms. Bumiller's question was submitted to the president before-hand.

Perhaps you might write to the president if you are unhappy with this system.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
So it appears that at least some of the questions were scripted. Bush knew the questions beforehand and he still performed terribly. I can see why he is afraid to debate Kerry.

Note: Thanks to Atrios for the link.