Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Scenes I'd Like to See

Another example for my proposition of allowing persons conducting press conferences to object to improper questions, like lawyers in court:
David Gregory: Scott, I just have two questions to follow up on the accidental shooting by the Vice President. Does the President think that the Vice President should address this publicly, personally, speak to the American people in any fashion to explain what happened and why it took so long to disclose it publicly?
McClellan would respond: Objection! Asked and answered. Irrelevant. Argumentative, assumes that the Vice President has such a duty.
Gregory: So the President doesn't think that the Vice President should actually think about it himself, not through intermediaries?
McClellan would respond: Objected to as leading, suggestive and repetitive.
Gregory: Okay, let me ask you this -- is the President concerned that the Vice President made decisions about the public disclosure of this incident that are clearly at odds with how you and others advising the President disclose personal information about the President's activities?
McClellan would respond: Objection. Calls for speculation. Argumentative.

Now you play:
Gregory: Does the President think it's appropriate for the Vice President to essentially make decisions at odds with the public disclosure process of this White House?
State your objection.
Gregory: But that's a non-answer.
Gregory: Does the President have a view about how the Vice President has conducted himself?
Gregory: No, I don't recall you sharing the President's view.
Gregory: You didn't answer that question. It was very respectful --
Gregory: The Vice President basically decided on his own to not disclose this, which is at odds with how you do business and how the President does business, right?
Hint: Conclusory. Badgering the witness.
Gregory: I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question, because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer.
Gregory: I have one final question, since that one wasn't answered. Is it appropriate for the Vice President to have waited 14 hours after the incident before he spoke with local law enforcement officials? And do you think that an average citizen would have been accorded that same amount of time before having to answer questions about a shooting incident?
Note that the last question assumes that the VP did something wrong by not speaking to a local official until 14 hours later. This is a favorite of journalists, to imply that something was shameful, immoral or illegal, when it is nothing of the sort.

It occurs to me that there might be a limit to such objectionable questions, as here when David Gregory stubbornly keeps badgering McClellan, after 2 or 3 warnings, McClellan should declare him in contempt and go on to another questioner.

Of course this will never happen, because the press secretary is supposed to be patient and appear open and forthright, even when the press is trying to pressure him to give statements that are beyond his knowledge. Besides, they'd have to hire a judge to rule on the objections. But it would still be quite revealing and educational. Maybe some smart TV show host on Fox could get a judge like Napolitano to comment in this way to a tape of one of these gaggles.


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