At the end of yesterday’s press conference, a reporter asked President Bush what was his “reaction” to MoveOn.org’s Gen. Petraeus ad in the New York Times. The question — the last of the briefing — gave Bush an opportunity to express his disappointment in the “leaders of the Democrat party”:
I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org — or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal. It’s one thing to attack me; it’s another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the question came from Washington Examiner reporter Bill Sammon, who is also a frequent Fox News guest and formerly a Washington Times reporter. Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank notes that Bush was in “need of a pick-me-up” after a series of tough questions on the economy, Iraq, and SCHIP. Therefore, he “looked toward the back of the room” and personally chose Sammon, aka “Big Stretch.”
Sammon has written four books on Bush, enjoying a close relationship and unprecedented access. His bio for speaking engagements brags:
Six-foot-seven inch Bill Sammon — nicknamed “Superstretch” by President Bush — enjoys more access to the commander-in-chief than any other journalist. Sammon has spent hours with Bush in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One — even in the President’s sprawling Texas ranch. As Senior White House Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Bill Sammon travels with Bush wherever he goes and was with him on September 11, when his presidency was utterly transformed by the terrorist attacks.
Sammon’s friendly softball paid off for the Bush administration. This morning, NBC’s Today Show covered Bush’s comments condemning MoveOn and Democrats, as did last night’s NBC Nightly News and ABC World News. The AP reported on Bush’s remarks, noting that he “criticized Democrats for not immediately condemning the MoveOn.org ad, which he called ‘disgusting.’”
UPDATE: Last night on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann called out Bush for picking Sammon as the last question, so that there was “no chance at a follow-up” to point out that Bush was the one who actually “interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place.”