Helen Thomas is my hero


You tell ’em Helen! The administration, any administration should not be calling reporters the night before to ask that they ask a certain question, or even a certain type of question. That’s the kind of garbage the Bush administration pulled and we despised them for it. It doesn’t make it any easier because it’s the Obama administration doing it. In fact, it makes it worse (for me). Does anyone else think Gibbs is smarmy? I really don’t like the way he does his job.

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15 thoughts on “Helen Thomas is my hero

  1. I honestly do not understand what the kerfluffle is about. Is she saying that the white house only permitted pre approved questions? Or is she upset that the questions came from twitter?

  2. @tiki god: The reporters are upset because Whoever set up the “town hall debate” are picking which questions from the internet to answer, and also who gets admitted to the meeting. The fact that the questions come from twitter is not an issue. It suggests an attempt to manipulate the debate.

    Gibbs continues to be upsetting in that he doesn’t seem to see the problem. This is of course prevarication, which he probably sees as his job, but his manner of doing so is insulting: He splits hairs when he suggests that the meeting is a public forum because the reporter is a member of the public. He is sarcastic while wearing an asinine grin. He offers the reporter the sop of having the first question (instead of it traditionally going to the AP) at tomorrow’s news conference, instead of answering his current one.

    Ideally, the job of the press secretary is to inform the public. I allow that some prevarication might be justifiable, but I still don’t like it. Manipulating the press is a subversion of the democratic process. It’s unsettling to see a shift back towards the status quo that we rejected in the last national election.

    The first press secretary I was really aware of was Ari Fleischer. I hated him. I didn’t think much of his successor. Gibbs seems to be no improvement.

    tldr: Gibbs made an ass of himself.

  3. @Twee:

    so who does she suggest moderate the questions? cause you know that there were litterally thousands of questions asked, do we go with “lol make pot legal” or “what’s your plan for afganistan”.

    Also, did the people that were admitted have to sign a loyalty pledge? what was their criteria to admit people?

  4. @tiki god: Why does it need to be moderated at all? There’s no reason the administration should even know what the questions are in advance. Reporters ask questions and the administration does its best to answer them. End of story. hen you start filtering, you get lies, prepackaged for our consumption. This particular instance certainly is the most egregious example, but ti didn’t used to be like this. The administrations used to be afraid of the press and this escalated w/ Nixon and Watergate. Somewhere along the line, this stopped. The reporters have become lapdogs hoping for a treat from the President, a little bit at a time, culminating in the Bush administration, who carefully (if not always successfully) orchestrated every press conference, town hall, speech, etc…

  5. @nyokki: every press conference is moderated. you have to have a moderator or else everyone is asking all their questions at once and yelling at the president. The Press moderates themselves as you’ll notice that there hasn’t been a single “have you fucked the first lady in the oval office yet” questions, which is exactly what you get from unmoderated twitter/facebook questions.

    You think those youtube debate questions were unmoderated? those questions were chosen by the debate presenters, exactly like this townhall system was. Now that I have a firm grasp on the situation it sounds like Helen Thomas has a stick up her ass about it because the MEDIA didn’t get to choose the questions. Sounds more like she’s butt hurt because ABC/CBS/FOX didn’t get the final say.

    That being said, as much as I hate having the idiots in the media ask their questions, the white house doesn’t need to be asking and answering it’s own questions, that’s just silly, and when you get to cherry pick what you’re going to answer, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

  6. @tiki god: Press conferences aren’t moderated. The press people are chosen, that’s true, but not by the administration. If they were to ask too many inappropriate questions they’d never be called on. Basically they moderate themselves to some extent. If you remember Bill Clinton was asked about his underwear preference. Everyone laughed, no one cared that it was ‘inappropriate’. He answered, smiled and went on. The press has become too circumspect, they worry too much that they’ll not be invited back, giving te White House too much power in the situation. It’s garbage and it should stop. I think we (and Obama) can handle some embarrassing and difficult questions. It doesn’t need to be a show that’s put on for our benefit. We’re becoming soft-shelled idiots that get outraged by everything. I’m sick of it and I think Helen Thomas is too. There was a lot of hope for better from the Obama administration in terms of forthrightness and ‘transparency’ from his administration. So far, there has not been much of that. Maybe it’s because I’m older and remember what a press conference, Town Hall and Presidential debates used to be. They literally did not know what would be asked and, if you watch them, they’ve been clearly caught off guard all the time. It’s what we wanted, to see how well they reacted to the unknown and whether or not they actually knew what they were talking about. It’s been a joke since (and including) Bill Clinton, who changed the debate rules to the current set-up. League of Women Voters used to decide the rules, platform and questions of the debate, which were not known to candidates ahead of time. It was also The League of Women that decided who participated, not the candidates. Clinton abolished tat and it’s been ridiculous ever since.

  7. @Twee: I’m not crazy about how that was done, but since it was made clear, ahead of time, where the questions were chosen from, who chose them, how they were chosen; I’m ok w/ it. My problem is that this same basic method is being used on a regular basis w/out the acknowledgment of the machinations behind-the-scenes. IOW, this is the way the press conferences themselves are being handled and that is not ok.

  8. @nyokki: The reason I thought that USA Today piece was relevant was because it is about the same “town hall meeting” Gibbs was being cagey about in the original post. I suppose I’ll now have to watch it or read a transcript before I form any more opinions. I agree that this is no way to run a press conference.

  9. @Twee: Ah, I didn’t realize. I prolly heard about the Town Hall before I actually watched it and didn’t think it was that one being discussed. That does change things a bit, softens my initial reaction. I still don’t like it, but neither is it as concerning as I thought on that particular part of my argument.

    A more extensive video of the press conference.

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