June 28th, 2009
06:52 PM ET
3 years ago

Reliable Sources: Journos spar over Obama presser question


WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tensions flared between “new media” reporters and print and television journalists last Tuesday when President Obama called on Nico Pitney, HuffingtonPost.com national editor, to ask the second question during a news conference at the White House. The President has called on bloggers in the past but Obama seemed to be aware of the nature of Pitney's question, which the blogger had solicited from Iranians via the internet, before he even asked it.

On Reliable Sources Sunday, Howard Kurtz played the exchange and posed the question directly to Pitney: "You said the White House notified you that you would probably get a question. Everyone assumes what we just saw was orchestrated."

Pitney denied having planned out the exchange with the White House and said the criticism from other reporters stems from "jealousy" and "hypocrisy."

"From beginning to end, there was no planning involved," Pitney told Howard Kurtz.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, also on the panel with Pitney, wasn't buying the explanation.

"Nico, the night before, sent out an email to his colleagues saying, 'Some big news. The White House called earlier this evening and asked if I could ask a question of President Obama. I'm about to post a solicitation to the blog, Facebook/Twitter. It seems fairly likely that this is going to happen. I'm pretty sure it's going to happen, but it's not 100%.’ “

Milbank said he is not comfortable with the current relationship between the White House and parts of the press corps.

"The White House shouldn't be calling a person the night before, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular question asked a certain way."

Pitney later said that given the situation, he wanted to make the most of it.

"When I found out the White House was going to potentially take this question, I went to a Farsi language social networking site… If I was going to have that opportunity, I was going to canvass as many Iranians as possible."

Another panelist, Amanda Carpenter of The Washington Times, contended that Pitney himself didn't do anything wrong, and that his question from an Iranian asking under which conditions Obama would accept the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a valid one. However, Carpenter blamed the White House for colluding with a member of the liberal press.

"The administration calling you beforehand, thinking you were probably going to ask something sympathetic, escorting you to the front of the pressroom to then ask a question in a place where everyone should get a fair crack at the President is unfair," Carpenter said.

For his part, Pitney dismissed accusations of collusion. "It would be a strange conspiracy, considering Obama dodged the question," Pitney said.

Kurtz responded, "Well, there's no guarantee you get an answer."

Updated: 3:46 p.m.

soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. skyhawkdriver

    News flash..politics makes strange bedfollows..is it really a suprise to anyone that the media is becoming irrelevant..they all stink

    June 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. judasgoat

    i'll call the show UN- reliable sources; because they had the nerve to sit around the table and discuss the topic of talk-radio and their responsibility. and stating that they didn't think that rush, sharon hannity, and bill o.really wasn't copeable for the murders of the DR. in church or the black guard at the museum. if you listen to these folks[red state radio] and their daily rant against the GOV"T, now that the democrats run the show. it is these 3 right wing zealot radio main stays have been responsible before of people going to syngouges and other places shooting and killing people . saying that they don't like liberals...... after listening to the crap these people talk about on a daily basis even this ms.cox of air america chimed in saying that these folks don't shoulder no blame. she like the rest of YOU people speak w/ fork tougue. all fakes just sticking up for one another.

    June 28, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. mike

    I would also add ABC, CBS and NBC.

    June 28, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. ck

    WAKE UP AMERICA!

    Obama has begun the process of media censorship. Once that happens, God help us all.

    CNN already censors the news. Look how quick the "Permalink" goes up when the majority of posts criticize Obama.

    His popularity is nose diving, but CNN and the other biased news outlets refuse to report it.

    If it weren't so scarey it would be comical.

    June 28, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    Easy to believe, considering how anti-White HP has become.

    June 28, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Shingo

    The news media needs to quit whining and report the news. So gee whiz they called on someone else. Get over it and move on.

    June 28, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Voter

    Why would anyone believe that this is anything other than business as usual for control freak Obama?

    June 28, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. Cindy

    So, Obama kicked Brian Williams out of his bed and now Nico's taken his place?

    The bickering and jealousy that goes on in the Press Corps... so petty and unprofessional.

    June 28, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. CTerry83@SprintPCS.Com

    Mr. Howard "The Truth Hurts!" Kurtz And Dana "The Lame One!" Milbank. Mr. Kurtz Is A Pathetic Hypocite, And Dana Millbank Is A Jerk. All Reliable Sources And CNN Seem To Do These Days Is Whyne About MSNBC And Ride Fox News Channels Coattails (Or Talking Points). Unless You Have Substatial Proof That The Huffington Post Is Getting Special Favors From The White House, Than I Suggest That You Take Your Grade School Journalism And Get Your Facts Straight.

    June 28, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. gl, Pittsburgh

    Why is CNN and Reliable Sources in bed with the GOP is the more realistic question.

    June 28, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. makesUwonder

    Well, now that's an easy question, it's a big YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 28, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Biased

    It is almost laughable to read all these diehard Obama worshippers that CNN is in the tank with the GOP....I watch CNN every day most of the day and they are in the tank as much for Obama as everyone else is. My goodness, since when has it it come down from above that thou shalt not speak any negativity re Obama? Some of you people need to get back to reality or get a life beyond being critical of anything not 100% positive about him. You talk about republicans being negative – they have nothing on some of you who I believe must think Obama walks on water the way you worship or try to protect his every move.

    June 28, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. Ennis, LA

    Why doesn't Obama start acting presidential and stop trying to
    coddle the news media? He seems more comfortable running
    for president than being one. The people expect a leader living
    in the White House. Instead, we've got a campaigner running
    for re-election. Hold off, Barrack. 2012 is three years away. The
    public is getting too much of you.

    June 28, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. D. Tree

    The major networks are just mad now that Huffington Post is considered a mainstream news outlet.

    June 28, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Proud Soldiers Mom

    Programmed BOTS just love to throw in the "BUSH" name. Bush is gone. Time to RE- program all these BOTS!

    June 28, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. leah

    Pitney have some question from Iranians and Knowing President Obama he would want to send a shout out to those suffering in Iran so what's wrong with that.

    Some reporters are such a whinnies babies
    Jealousy is sprouting out from their nose
    Get over it crybabies (Including John King who is in bed with GOP)

    June 28, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. CNN = Moveon.org

    Fox News is the only fair and balanced news network. Of course if your a Democrat and hate the truth about what is going on in America, you will disagree. However, Democrats have proven themselves over and over to be idiots who can't think for themselves as they vote for anyone the media tells them to vote for. Case in point: Obama.

    He spends more of your money and taxes you more, but Democrats are still idiots and support his "policies." Obama has made some good decisions though. Of course, all of those decisions were already made by Bush and he just continued with the same policies.

    June 28, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. him

    jt says:

    "Why is 'State of the Union', 'Reliable Sources', Wolf Blitzer, and
    Campbell Brown in bed with the GOP?"

    Are you watching the same program as the rest of us?

    June 28, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Loup Garou 782

    I'm not sure about being in bed with the White House, more likely in bed with the occupants.

    June 28, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Jeanne Beans

    How is this even news and who cares?

    June 28, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    oh you mean like Fox News being an agent for GOP and pretending to be a news channel?

    June 28, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. Peter E

    After 8 years of Bush planting fake journalists in the press corps, after his staff producing fake news to be aired on TV stations, I think this is still a step up from government controlled media. It's not perfect, but it's definitely an improvement.

    June 28, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Audrey Fryer

    And Dana Milbank is in bed with the Republicans and always has been – so taking his source is "unreliable".

    June 28, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Oh, call the cops! The White House telling people they'll ask them questions! As opposed to Bush who gave scripted questions to his audience? And that too was also only in the very unlikely event that Bush even took questions!

    June 28, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. zelda

    1) not news
    2) biased headline
    3) cnn= faux news

    please, please, is it too much to ask you people to report on something newsworthy?

    June 28, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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