03-12-09 For a more civil White House Press Corps

I sent the following note to the White House Press Corps with a copy to Robert Gibbs:

For a more civil White House Press Corps

Stop asking Robert Gibbs for his opinions as if he were the President.
Let him say if he knows what the President thinks about the matter under discussion.
Examples.
a. “Does the President bear any responsibility for what Warren Buffett described as confusion and fear –”
b. “any room for improvement there?”
(B – This should be prefixed by ‘Does the President think_____’ )
c. “So, I mean, do you think this makes even a dent in the psyche of the American people?”

Don’t ask the President’s representative or the President what he thinks about every twerpy politician’s remark – Don’t select them to represent an ideology of the questioner or his or her publisher or media owner.
Choose the point of view to be asked about in terms of the genuine importance, long term influence or power, or serious knowledge or questioning of the person being quoted.
Just being a Republican is not enough to merit turning the press conference into a media war rather than a questioning on behalf of the American people.

The press corps should go back to asking questions about strategic FACTS – rather than asking about opinions or prognostications about the future.

The President has the right not to make guesses. If there are questions about such matters that ARE the public’s business that will be obvious enough.

In other words —
Let the press restore civility and intelligence to the public discourse by exercising some judgement and intelligence about what they ask. And learn again the difference between finding things out and simply trying to pretend to an authority they should not possess.

Example of inserting argumentative ideology representing the forumulation of the reporter rather than just asking the
question with which they begin:
“Q Does he believe that everything in that bill is essential spending?
(avoiding the following add on)
considering the over $1.5 trillion deficit he’s projecting for this year?”
(the tag remark is NOT relevant to the question. It may be relevant to a follow up of the answer.)
etc.

I hope the Press Corps takes these comments to heart.

I also suggest that Robert Gibbs rephrase the questions so that they are questions – or ignore the truly contentious ones.
Don’t let reporters set the agenda inside the questions. If reporters are thoughtful instead of roosters of ideology than they
can reveal new information by strategically focusing their questions.

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