OTTAWA, Canada – Ever wonder how President Obama decides which reporters to call upon at a news conference? Here in Canada, it appears to be a matter of the President soothing some bruised feelings by calling on two newspaper reporters he recently skipped over at his first White House press conference.
As I sit in the front row for the event about to start with the President and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the buzz among American reporters is that the lucky folks are David Jackson of USA
Today and Jonathan Weisman of The Wall Street Journal.
The behind-the-scenes story is that Jackson and Weisman, who work for two major papers, were not happy that the President didn't call on them at the big East Room newser earlier this month.
One way for White House officials to make it up to the gentlemen –and their sizable readerships - would be to call on them now. Sure enough, several reporters say Weisman and Jackson have been tipped that Obama will call on them today. And sure enough, both men have been given prime seats - front and center - here in Canada.
Then again, being tipped off that you're getting a question to a president doesn't always work out as planned. I remember in Colombia a couple of years ago, an aide to President Bush tipped me that I should be ready to be called on.
Then Bush himself winked at me, so I got armed and ready. And then when my turn was coming, the President looked down at the piece of paper at his podium reminding him of who to call on and appeared to lose his place on the page.
Under pressure to call out a name, he fell back on blurting the name of an Associated Press reporter in the front row - and my carefully-crafted question never saw the light of day.