Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Dishonesty of the Wall Street Journal

If you are looking for your daily dose of inaccuracy and dishonesty, you need look no further than today's editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. This discussion centers around President Obama's prime-time press conference the other night and his practice of calling on reporters from a pre-arranged list. From the piece (emphasis mine):

The problem wasn't the lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.

Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with rescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

I don't take exception to questioning the practice of preselecting reporters who get to question the President, I take exception to the WSJ's false statement that President Bush would not have gotten away with this practice. One would only need to do a small amount of research before realizing that President Bush also preselected reporters to call on during his press conference. Just the other night on The O'Reilly Factor, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer blatantly stated that this was the practice:

Not only did President Bush make it an accepted practice to preselect who he would call on, but as noted in this article, the Bush Administration even scripted a whole press conference in the lead-up to the Iraq War to assure that no questions would be asked from the likes of TIME magazine or The Washington Post.

For the Wall Street Journal to suggest that Bush could have never "gotten away with rescreening his interlocutors" is misleading at best and flat-out dishonest at worst.

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