Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Scripted Questions

Kevin Drum has been discussing whether questions are submitted in advance for Presidential press conferences.

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."

After a back and forth the public editor of the New York Times said

I cannot speak for other news organizations, but I can assure you categorically that the New York Times does not -- ever -- submit press conference questions in advance.

I'd always assumed that these things were scripted. After all, what sane President would go out in front of the cameras for an hour in an election year without a script? These guys rehearse for days to prepare the President before letting him in front of the cameras.

However, whether the questions are submitted or not makes little difference. The main issues are obvious. Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and the War on Terror™. That's why these conferences are a huge waste of time. This one gave the President 17 minutes on live TV to talk about how we must stand firm, and then 44 minutes to answer questions and say, er, we must stand firm.

The only way to make these things useful is to admit members of the public with no reputation to protect to go in and ask questions that would be career suicide for the press corps. Clinton would have breezed it. Bush... not so much.
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