I’m going to give Politico the benefit of the doubt and assume that this story is just them being pissy about the DC tweaking them over traffic on Monday. They can’t really be pretend-bothered that a teenager was sent to do the job at the dumbest, least newsworthy daily spectacle in American politics, can they?
Frankly, I’m bothered. I think the Caller should apologize for its bad judgment in deciding that a White House press briefing was worth attending.
Gabe Finger, who told POLITICO he’s 16, tweeted a photo of the White House briefing room and later posted: “Just angered Obama’s press secretary. Word.”
While students interning at news organizations are often brought to the White House briefing, it’s rare for them to ask questions, and even rarer for high schooler to get a question in.
Finger asked about reported death threats against George Zimmerman and his family. After an initial response, he followed up to ask if the family was “on their own.”
Carney’s response: “You can editorialize all you want, and I’m sure that you will, but that is a ridiculous statement.”
According to WaPo, he claimed to be unaware that Zimmerman and his family have been threatened constantly for the past 17 months. Oh, and he also said that, contra Lindsey Graham, we will not in fact be boycotting Russia’s winter Olympics. That was the “big news” to come out of today’s briefing, which is par for the course from a guy who knows literally thousands of ways to duck a question. But this isn’t an anti-Carney thing on my part; it’s a reaction to the plain fact that the daily televised cat-and-mouse game, where the press secretary tries to say nothing substantive whatsoever and professional reporters try to make him squirm a little in his evasions to prove that they’re doing their jobs, is pointless. It’s almost completely devoid of actual news value. The real affront in sending a kid to ask a question rather than someone with 20 years on the job is the affront to the guild, not any affront to the dignity of the process. What dignity? What process? You don’t need a teenager to sit there patiently while Carney says, “I’d refer you to the State Department on that” or “The president has full confidence in Attorney General Holder.” A five-year-old could do it. I’d rather hear him asked what he thinks of the “Sharknado” sequel. We might, for once, at least get an unguarded exchange.
In lieu of an exit question, some homework for you: Name a piece of real news that’s come from the White House press briefing lately. I don’t mean blog fodder like a reporter bickering with Carney theatrically or Carney goofing on something that he later had to walk back. I mean a bona fide substantive Q&A in the course of which an important, previously undisclosed fact was revealed. The signal-to-noise ratio here is vanishingly small, but it can’t be absolute zero. Can it?
Update: The Daily Caller answers the guild:
Some reporters in Washington are asking why The Daily Caller sent our intern Gabe Finger to the White House press briefing this afternoon. Talk about missing the point. The real question is, why did it take a 16-year-old intern to raise an obvious and important question that the White House press corps should have asked days ago? We don’t care how old Gabe Finger is. It doesn’t matter to us what his credentials are. All we care about is how well he does his job. Today he did it a lot better than most White House reporters.
Follow the link to see how the post ends.
Update: (MKH) Please imagine the drooling and collective orgasm of the press corps over, say, a female high-school intern who asked a question at, say, a John Boehner presser about “restrictive new abortion laws” sweeping the country and whether national Republicans intended to do anything to “protect women from these threats” to their well-being. “So, they’re on their own?” she asks. Boehner: “You can editorialize all you want, and I’m sure that you will, but that is a ridiculous statement.”
“ZOMG, did you see her bravery and her courageous shoes??? That Boehner is a monster for the way he treated her.”
The Daily Caller intern, Gabe Finger, asked a question that wasn’t out of bounds or disrespectful, he displayed admirable gumption in getting a question in in the first place, and he addressed a hot topic in an interesting, provocative way. For his trouble, he’s being publicly, mercilessly slammed by a bunch of reporters whose annual, swanky indulgence is a dinner ostensibly meant to encourage exactly the kind of student Gabe seems to be.