Today, Neil Munro of the Daily Caller caused some kind of massive kerfuffle by merely asking the President of the United States a pointed question as he delivered his statement in the White House Rose Garden regarding illegal immigrants.
Presidents have steadily become more and more controlling of their public statements and media face-time, but certainly President Obama has set new precedents for being inaccessible. He frequently uses the “bully pulpit” of the White House to deliver televised statements like today’s while refusing to answer questions from the assembled press (on the off-chance any are asked). Neil Munro threw a wrench in the president’s style today, prompting him to lose his temper and so mess up the presentation. Now, a reporter who asked a question is being labeled by much of the rest of the media as a “heckler.”
If this president or any president is merely going to use the Rose Garden as an opportunity to deliver a scripted statement with no questions allowed, the real qyestion raised is why reporters even need to be there. It’s the 21st century, after all. The White House has a website. If the president just wants to deliver a videotaped address, he can do it, anytime, and put it online. He can talk into his webcam all day if he wants! Why should the whole Washington press corps, the U.S. national media, and international media people dutifully show up in the Rose Garden with their cameras and microphones if that’s all that they’re going to get?
Journalists ought to be more than merely facilitators of the White House communications department, most especially in an age when no facilitators are even needed.