Monday, December 04, 2006

Everyone at a televised press conference is on the record all the time. Period. 
I'm elevating a comment up to the main page, because I think it warrants a response. An anonymous commenter objects to this post with the following:

So they're ignorant for asking a question? Judge a reporter on their actual reporting, not a question they ask to get to that information they report.

Absurd. It is an on-the-record, televised news conference. Transcripts were published, including the remarks of the reporters themselves. Asking a rhetorical question, or playing 'devil's advocate' has a place, say, in an unrecorded telephone interview. But in the televised press conference setting, reporters frequently - even routinely - preen for the cameras.

In this setting, the reporters' remarks are on the record, just as much as those of the principals giving the press conference. You cannot have a press conference and have the principals subject to criticism while somehow exempting reporters from examination.

That sentiment is part and parcel of the breathtaking arrogance of a press corps which believes it is entitled to violate the laws of the land (w/r/t the publication of classified and sensitive national security information) and increasingly agitates for "shield laws" to set itself above the law of the land that applies to everyone else.

If the principal is on the record and fair game in a public press conference, then so is the journalist.

Sauce for the goose.

Further, to assume, as this commenter does, that the very presence of other reporters does not affect the behavior of journos at press conferences is extremely naive. There is a mostly healthy incentive to reporters to make a name for themselves as the "toughest" reporter at a given press conference, and reporters are often themselves strutting for the cameras, trying to make a name for themselves. This includes grandstanding at press conferences.

I don't recall anyone on the left, nor any journalists coming to Jeff Gannon's defense while he was being reviled by the left for stating that the Democrats were "out of touch with reality," -- in the course of asking a question.

No. The mainstream media considered his very questioning to be evidence of his own conservative bias and point of view.

And they were right.

You cannot argue against Gannon then, while arguing that press questions - no matter how stupid or ill-informed - ought to be exempt from scrutiny and criticism.

If you are at a televised press conference, everybody is on the record all the time. Period.

You use the word "ignorant" but you yourself are incredibly ignorant of how reporters do their jobs.

That's funny...I was a reporter myself for a number of years, full-time, with a national magazine with a circ of around a million. I even grandstanded at a number of press conferences (before I gained the maturity to learn how distasteful it is to do so. They were the excesses of a young and eager reporter).

But at least I recognize that reporters DO grandstand. And I understand that reporters at televised press conferences are on the record.

This commenter doesn't.

Who's the ignorant one?

Reporters frequently ask questions that display a belief/perspective they don't personally agree with, in order to get the most enlightening response.

Sometimes they do. There's no evidence whatsoever that that is the case here.

It's standard operating procedure.

No it isn't. Now, asking a question like "how would you answer a critic who would say ... X" is an important skill. But failing to understand the basic tenets underlying your beat isn't standard operating procedure. It's stupid.

A reporter's job isn't to appear as smart as you, or to actually be as smart as you think they need to be

Don't worry. There's no chance of that happening, anyway, among this crew.

-- their job is to make you smarter, by getting the real experts to open up and talk.

They're not. They're getting in the way, by wasting precious time forcing officials to carefully restate for the numbskull reporters what's already clear. This kind of reporting does not encourage real experts to open up and talk. This kind of reporting encourages real experts to keep their mouths shut, because the idiots in the 8-second sound byte (8-SSB) press corps (TM) will likely misconstrue everything they say, anyway.

Did the general's response to her question enlighten you, or enlighten the audience?

No. There are an ifinite number of much better questions that could have been asked by a smarter reporter who understood his or her beat. These reporters are actually getting in the way of understanding the issues because they waste precious time asking stupid questions. I mean, does anyone REALLY think we're not trying to win? Well, I guess some people do - the professionally obtuse birdbrains on the pentagon beat.

If he did then the reporters did their job.

No, they didn't. The spokespeople did their job. The reporters would have better served us by educating themselves so they can ask more informed questions, or by shutting up and removing themselves from the process.

"Gotcha" press conferences don't serve the interests of the Republic, or anyone else but the grandstanding reporters.

But I suspect you'd find a way to criticize them no matter what.

Only the dumb ones, the professionally obtuse, and those more concerned with protecting themselves and other journalists than in serving their prime directive: Getting at the truth.

When someone tells a journalist how we're trying to win by emphasizing nonkinetic operations, and the chucklehead journo then asks how it was decided that we're not trying to win, then that tells me that said chucklehead didn't bother listening. And if you can't listen, how the hell can you accurately report?

You can't.

And you're going to argue that the person who didn't listen "did their job?"


Splash, out


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