Arizona CBS News affiliate anchor Catherine Anaya Thursday retracted her charge that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said reporters provide to him their questions in advance, saying she conflated a White House request to provide her question beforehand with a policy that applied generally to others.
In an email to Talking Points Memo and a statement that appeared on her news organization’s website – and then was removed, supposedly for fine tuning – Anaya said she had made a mistake and that nothing she reported had been relayed by Carney.
From her email:
As a local journalist I had no issue providing my proposed question in advance because I wanted to make sure it was an appropriate [question] for a national briefing and I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for Mr. Carney but in discussing it with a staff member the night before we decided I would save it for the president.
I was attempting to not waste national time on a local question but in my attempt at explaining that I unintentionally made it sound like that experience applied to everyone. That is my mistake and I own up to it.
From her Statement:
First, I did not take notes during our coffee with Jay Carney because it was off the record . . .
In my live report I also wanted to share my impression of my experience in getting a question answered during the briefing. I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the President instead.
My mistake was to lump that experience with my coffee meeting reference, inadvertently giving Mr. Carney credit for that when in fact it did not come from him. I regret giving anyone the impression that it was from conversation I had with Mr. Carney.
I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists.
None of my observations stemmed from my off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney.
I’ll say a couple of things.
Yesterday, I noted in reporting this that she seemed like a lousy journalist and her charges were suspect, and that it was not possible that all – as she said – or even most reporters provide their questions in advance.
But I didn’t rule out that some might do this, and I still don’t.
To start with, I can tell you one thing that surely happened yesterday. The full, expletive-filled wrath of the White House press operation came down on Anaya and her bosses to make them change their story. We’re used to this garbage in Washington, but I’m sure they’re not.
And, assuming she is not prone to hallucinating and didn’t bring her lithium with her to Washington, her new explanation also sounds suspect, since she was very specific about her charge Thursday:
(Carney) also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.
So it’s also not clear to me that Carney didn’t say something along these lines, even if it was misinterpreted.
And I would be very surprised, just based on my understanding about how reporters and their sources work, if questions posed at the briefing were never discussed beforehand in some capacity – though again, I doubt it’s a frequent occurrence.