Wednesday, June 30, 2004

One more from Wednesday's gaggle, this about the Carol Coleman interview.

Q Did anyone in the White House or the administration ask Irish television or its reporter, Carol Coleman, to submit questions in advance of her interview with the President last Wednesday?

MR. McCLELLAN: Bill, a couple of things. I saw I guess some reports on that. I don't know what every individual office -- whatever discussions that they have with reporters in terms of interviews. But obviously, the President was -- is pleased to sit down and do interviews with journalists, both from abroad, as well as here at home, and to talk about the priorities of this administration. And I think anytime that there is an interview that's going to take place, obviously there are staff-level discussions with reporters before that interview and to --

Q -- what are the --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, to talk about what issues might be on their mind, and stuff. That's -- but, reporters --

Q That's not the same thing as asking for --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. Let me finish.

Q -- and my question is, were questions asked for.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. Reporters, when they meet with the President, can ask whatever questions they want. And any suggestion to the contrary is just --

Q Right, but that doesn't answer the question. Did somebody in the administration ask her for questions in advance, and is that your policy?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, in terms -- you're talking my policy?

Q No, the administration's policy.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what an individual staffer may or may not have asked specifically of this reporter, but some of these interviews are set up by people outside of my direct office and control.

Q Well, will you say from this lectern that it is not the policy of this White House to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: Will you let me complete what I'm trying to say? Thank you. Just hold on a second. As I said, and you know very well from covering this White House, that any time a reporter sits down with the President, they are welcome to ask whatever questions they want to ask.

Q Yes, but that's beside the point.

MR. McCLELLAN: And certainly there will be staff-level discussions, talking about what issues reporters may want to bring up in some of these interviews. I mean, that happens all the time.

Q Indeed, it does.

MR. McCLELLAN: So reporters are able to ask whatever questions they want, Bill.

Q Right, but that wasn't my question. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be glad to look into this further.

Q Is it policy to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I don't know what some individual staffer may have done in another office, specifically in terms of this question that you're asking. I'll be glad to look into it. But reporters can ask the President whatever questions they want. I think we've addressed this question.

Q Is it your policy to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it is not my policy. In fact, if reporters would give me their questions, this press briefing would be a whole lot easier, I'm sure. But that's not my policy.

Q Sometimes you might answer them. (Laughter.)

Q I'll be glad to give you a question --

Q Just before I get on to my question, what you're saying is, you didn't ask anyone, but someone in the press office might have asked, and you're not sure --

MR. McCLELLAN: Not in my office.

Q But someone in media affairs or communications --

MR. McCLELLAN: These interviews are set up by another office. I'll be glad to take a look into it. But regardless, the reporter can ask whatever question they want. This interview is past us.

Stuff like this is why Scottie comes off as such a rank amateur compared to Ari Fleischer. McClellan admits that he was aware of Ms. Coleman's comments, which means he had ample time to look into what had happened. And having conceded that, he then refused to deny that questions had been asked for in advance, or affirm that it was not White House policy to ask for them, instead giving hopelessly obvious non-reponses.

Ari would never have backed himself into a corner like that. Ari would have had poor Bill doubting that the Irish even had TV, much less that Bush had been interviewed on one of their networks.

God bless that lying bastard for packing it in.

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