Reports are starting to come out that President Obama planted a question yesterday during his White House press conference by calling upon Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post with a question about the Iranian elections. Here's how the whole staged event went down.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post was not the least bit happy about this attempt of staged phoniness:
After the obligatory first question from the Associated Press, Obama treated the overflowing White House briefing room to a surprise. “I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post,” he announced.
Obama knew this because White House aides had called Pitney the day before to invite him, and they had escorted him into the room. They told him the president was likely to call on him, with the understanding that he would ask a question about Iran that had been submitted online by an Iranian. “I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet,” Obama went on. “Do you have a question?”
Pitney recognized his prompt. “That’s right,” he said, standing in the aisle and wearing a temporary White House press pass. “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”
Pitney asked his arranged question. Reporters looked at one another in amazement at the stagecraft they were witnessing. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grinned at the surprised TV correspondents in the first row.
The use of planted questioners is a no-no at presidential news conferences, because it sends a message to the world — Iran included — that the American press isn’t as free as advertised. But yesterday wasn’t so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, “The Obama Show.”
Will the White House press corps ever get tired of being used like this? They have been used as a weapon to silence those who try to oppose Obama's will, and now they have been used as a venue to plant phony questions. When will they realize that Obama has no respect for them and put down there pom-poms and megaphones and pick up there pads and pens? Take off there cheer leading outfits and put on there coats and ties and get back to the work of serious journalism?
UPDATE: Nico Pitney denies that it was a planted question: