Reporters were forbidden from asking questions during Karl Rove’s farewell press conference on the White House lawn with President Bush on Monday. But CBS correspondent Bill Plante ignored the embargo, shouting “If he’s so smart, how come you lost Congress?
For having the gall to disrupt the White House’s scripted moment, Plante’s off-the-cuff query became a lightning rod for right-wing criticism and abuse.
Judging by some of the reaction, you’d think I had been shouting obscenities in church!
“Unprofessional;” “Inappropriate;” “Unbecoming;” “Doesn’t show much class;” “you are a total idiot;” “Shill for the liberal Democrats.
Plante commented on his now-famous question in an interview with CBS’ Public Eye today. Plante said that “asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be”:
Anytime you challenge or appear to challenge the president — and I don’t care if the president is a Republican or a Democrat — there are people who will take issue with it and tell you it’s inappropriate. And you kind of expect that. I knew that was I did on Monday was smart-assed, but I think that that’s beside the point.
Our asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be. And the fact that they say ‘no questions’ or don’t allow time for questions really has nothing to do with it. They don’t have to answer, but I think we need to preserve and aggressively push our right to ask.
Plante is right. The problem with the traditional media today isn’t that reporters have neglected to show proper decency towards the White House, but rather that they’ve shown much too much deference.