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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Gannons on the Left of Them.

There has been a flurry of controversy on the Left about a correspondent named Gannon who asked openly partisan questions of Bush. For those who are interested in this issue, there is a good article on this subject ... with some context. From NR Online:

Montopoli cannot be serious. If anyone who asked softball questions at the White House "had to go," the White House briefing room would have almost emptied out in the Clinton years. The problem for Montopoli and other liberals is they seem to think that the need for an adversarial press emerged in 2001, when President Bush was first inaugurated. If we travel back to the Clinton era, it's not hard to discover a whole chorus of White House reporters who, to use Montopoli's words, squandered their access to Clinton with helpful softball questions, who put his agenda ahead of the public good and made a partisan spectacle of themselves in front of a large number of Americans who wanted the press to act as a watchdog of President Clinton.

Review the press conference transcript from March 19, 1999 — President Clinton's first solo press conference in almost a year (blame the Lewinsky scandal) and his first meeting with the press since the impeachment process crumbled in the Senate, and since Juanita Broaddrick charged on the February 24 edition of NBC's Dateline that Clinton had raped her in 1978.

After some questions about Kosovo and Chinese espionage came what liberals might call Gannon #1, Wolf Blitzer of CNN: "Mr. President, there's been a lot of people in New York state who've spoken with your wife, who seem to be pretty much convinced she wants to run for the Senate seat next year. A, how do you feel about that? Do you think she would be a good senator? And as part of a broader question involving what has happened over the past year, how are the two of you doing in trying to strengthen your relationship, given everything you and she have been through over this past year?" Clinton replied: "Well, on the second question, I think we're — we're working hard. We love each other very much, and we're working on it. On the first question, I don't have any doubt that she would be a magnificent senator." That might be a question people would like to hear answered, but it definitely placed the Clintons' agenda ahead of the public's agenda.

After that came Gannon #2, batty Sarah McClendon, once the classic poster girl for the loose credentialing process at the White House. Reporters laughed when Clinton went beyond the front row to pick her as she yelled to get his attention. Standing to show her snappy navy-blue beret, McClendon asked: "Sir, will you tell us why you think the people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan to treat you worse than they treated Abe Lincoln?" That allowed Clinton to make jokes. I don't remember the Columbia Journalism Review huffing that she "had to go" and her hard pass should be revoked.

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