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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Why discussing the Daily Caller interrupting the President is important, even if that's what they want

15

June

abc_white_househeckler_thg_120615_wblog.jpgBefore media critics can even ask the question, Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro has already won.

I believe that's because the real point of his shouted question, interrupting President Obama while he was reading a statement about a new policy regarding youthful illegal immigrants, wasn't to get an answer.

The point was to cause a scene at a Democratic president's press conference and maybe get a little attention.

Munro has said he didn't mean to interrupt the president but tried to ask a question as he was wrapping up. But other reporters scoffed at that explanation, with Todd Zwillich of Public Radio International tweeting: "I was standing right behind Munro in the Rose Garden. Idea he "mistimed" his questions isn't credible. He purposely interrupted."

It's not as if Obama was going to recognize Munro to ask a question during the official Q&A section of the press conference. The Daily Caller has made its disdain for Democratic and Obama policies plain in its coverage; though founder Tucker Carlson has insisted to me it isn't a conservative website, its coverage of issues like this immigration change and the Trayvon Martin case make it plain where their allegiances lie.

So interrupting the president is probably about earning stories in the New York Times and Twitter mentions, not actually getting an answer to anything.

The answer to media critics' presumed question, of course, is no. Munro shouldn't have interrupted the president while he was speaking; if for no other reason than, if every reporter who feared they wouldn't get called on acted similarly, there wouldn't be a press conference anymore for anyone.

George W. Bush frustrated lots of reporters over how he handled calling on reporters, but I don't recall anyone interrupting his speeches. Famously combative reporter Sam Donaldson said he never interrupted Ronald Reagan's official presentations when he was covering the White House.

And no, I don't understand why conservative media outlets and pundits won't grant a Democratic president the same respect they would demand if the White House was held by a Republican.

As obvious as this sounds, I do think it is important to talk about these distortions in journalism protocol when they happen. Much as the Daily Caller will posture that Munro's actions were about journalism, pugnacious journalism is about getting answers -- which this reporter had to know would not follow from interrupting the president.

But if you want attention, attaboys from the president's political opponents and website traffic from all the people who can't wait to criticize his actions, well then interrupting his speech is a no-brainer.

 

 

 

[Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:32am]

    

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