White House Press Secretary: Sorry, Briefings Aren’t Staged
The White House and reporters who cover press conferences saw quite the scandal Thursday after a local Washington reporter stated that journalists would submit questions to the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney prior to the daily press briefings, and that one could give questions ahead of time and receive a written response. The reporter in question was one of a team that interviewed President Obama and others, and noted that this was done in preparation for Obama’s interaction with the press.
Critics of the media quickly pointed out the major issue this would bring up, if it proved to be true. Pre-planned and agreed upon questions are tantamount to cooperation between the government and the free press, making responses considerably more canned and thought out, preventing an element of surprise in news relations.
Critics of the media rapidly took notice of the report and drew attention to it.
— Richard Dukas (@RDukas) March 20, 2014
— 3Jeeps3 (@3Jeeps3) March 20, 2014
Others, such as Jon Ralston, joking jumped on board, voicing sarcastic disbelief:
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) March 20, 2014
It would appear that not all understood the joke — including Press Secretary Jay Carney who responded to his tweet with:
.@RalstonReports Briefings would be a lot easier if this were true! Rest assured, it is not.
— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) March 20, 2014
Ralston quickly explained, tweeting “I was joking! That reporter is insane,” and tweeting the Press Secretary that, “You know I know that! Crazy,” as well as “This is the problem with not having a sarcasm font! Get on that Twitter!”
Jennifer Epstein retweeted Carney’s response, confirming the claim as inaccurate.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) March 20, 2014
The accusation, while quickly denied, does highlight a major goal announced by the Obama administration that this would be a year of heightened government transparency. “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government,” he said. “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration … Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing … My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use,” read his statement. It would appear that most would, in unison, agree that the president has not failed transparency with this latest scandal at the very least.
More Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Obama’s Open Government: Not So Transparent After All
- IBM: We’ve Never Given Client Data to the NSA
- Is NSA’s Foreign Surveillance Still Over the Top?
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS