As we enter Day 3 of our national nightmare of a reporter from the Huffington Post asking a question at a press conference, the Gray Lady speaks out on the controversy that has gripped the nation:
The problem … is that he was cherry-picked, with a call-upon hours and hours beforehand, and handed a status that no one among the so-called elite of the press corps receives on any given day…the perception of a favored one who got exceptionally advance notice may send signals — far and wide — as to what lengths the administration will go to stage and control the message the president wants to send.
…the contrast between the media’s overall immediate reaction to “mission accomplished” and its current angst is instructive. Is it really a coincidence that the same “staged” event that’s provoking so much media outrage also happens to be one that took status-conscious journalists down a few pegs at a time of great uncertainty in their profession?
What’s more, the complaint that White House “staging” is inherently wrong is just bogus. Politicians stage events all the time for all kinds of reasons. The real question should be this: Was the reason for the White House’s managed question a defensible one? Yes, it helped Obama by making him look supportive of Iranian protesters. But it also allowed an ordinary Iranian to ask a tough question of the leader of the free world. Whatever “status” was granted Nico Pitney was also accorded the Iranian questioner. Can anyone seriously argue that this goal didn’t justify this relatively minor breach of Beltway press protocol?
I’m willing to admit that human beings are, for the most part, primarily interested in their own status in society. But has there ever been a group that was more nakedly obsessed with status than our contemporary national press corps?