The Daily Caller White House reporter Neil Munro interrupted President Obama today in the Rose Garden as Obama was describing his new immigration policy.
This is a pretty big breach of protocol. I’ve actually never seen anyone do this. But Munro, who asked about the effect of Obama’s policy on American workers, says he thought Obama was finishing and did not mean to interrupt him.
Neil’s explanation makes sense. Obama almost never takes questions after making statements, and the only conceivable chance you have to get one answered is to ask it at the moment he has finished, just before he starts to walk away. As you’ll notice below, Munro can be heard jumping in just after Obama completes a sentence. The president has a hint of finality in his tone.
Here’s the exchange from a couple of other angles.
The Daily Caller, a conservative news website, issued some statements after the exchange.
Neil Munro, White House Correspondent: “I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our president. I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States. I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions.”
Tucker Carlson, Editor-in-Chief: “I don’t remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan. And she shouldn’t have. A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We’re proud of Neil Munro.”
Neil Patel, Publisher: “The President today announced a very controversial policy and does not want to answer tough questions about it. Neil Munro is a veteran Washington reporter who today tried his best to time his question to be first as the President was wrapping up his remarks. He in no way meant to heckle the President of the United States.”
Patel makes an excellent point. This policy was announced on Friday morning, on a day when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney chose not to brief. And Obama wasn’t taking any questions. Instead, the White House staged a briefing about next week’s meeting of the G20. So there was no chance to ask anyone to explain a controversial policy in a public forum, and there won’t be until next week.
This was by design. Munro’s idea was to breach the contrived silence and allow Americans to see the policy explained.
Notice how poorly Obama handled the whole thing. Just the kind of peevishness George W. Bush used to get zinged for.
Really, this is hardly the end of the world.
I can remember once waiting for Bush to appear alongside the prime minister of India to make some statements. As they came to their lecterns, the Indian press immediately erupted in a cacophony of uninvited questions for the Indian leader, like flock of hysterical geese. Our uptight press corps stood stone faced.
At first I was appalled by the Indians’ behavior. And then it occurred to me: they get democracy better than we do.