Bush Eats the Press

Michael Crowley has a nice piece in the New York Observer on Bush’s Iraq Press Conference:

In other words: They … wuz … used! The press corps seemed mainly to serve as a prop, providing Mr. Bush with an opportunity to deliver another pro-war speech while appearing to bravely face the music. The White House sprung it on them at the last minute: The press conference was announced that very day, giving reporters little time to prepare.


In fact, the event’s only moment of candor may have come when Mr. Bush admitted during the conference that he was calling on reporters according to his pre- arranged list of names, which his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, later copped to preparing.

“This is scripted,” Mr. Bush joked.

Strangely, many reporters laughed at this remarkable joke, which had the additional benefit of being true.


On the first quote, I say any reporter who can’t come up with decent questions for the President in just one hour–on a subject that has been page one news for many months–should resign, or even better, be fired immediately. Regarding the second quote, it appears that the questions were not pre-approved, per se. Instead, reporters met with Fleischer (maybe Rove as well) in advance, and based on those meetings, the White House drew up a “script” of who to call on and when.