Seems the President’s handlers suffer a momentary bout of insanity and allowed Bush to be interviewed by someone outside of the White House Press Corp. that normally treats him with kid-gloves and the results aren’t pretty. Well, not if you’re a Republican fan of Bush at least. To someone like me it was poetry in motion watching Carole Coleman, the Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public television network, as she asked one tough question after another of the President who was apparently not prepared to be asked real questions.
Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries – her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Department’s Web site.
Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.
She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless “answers” that satisfy the White House press corps – at one point, he mumbled, “My job is to do my job” – she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.
The president complained five times during the course of the interview about the pointed nature of Coleman’s questions and follow-ups – “Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?” the hapless Bush pleaded at one point, as he demanded his questioner go easy on him.
After the interview was done, a Bush aide told the Irish Independent newspaper that the White House was concerned that Coleman had “overstepped the bounds of politeness.”
As punishment, the White House canceled an exclusive interview that had been arranged for RTE with first lady Laura Bush.
Alas, the video clip is in RealPlayer format (blech!) and even though I broke down and installed it just to see this clip the servers are currently maxed out due to all the attention this clip is garnering. According to John Nichols, though, Coleman was “neither impolite nor inappropriate,” but merely doing what so many in the White House Press Corp. seem unwilling to do: Ask serious questions. According to later news reports, however, it seems the problem really is that Coleman didn’t ask the right questions as far as the White House was concerned:
The White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTÉ journalist Carole Coleman’s interview with US President George Bush.
And it is believed the President’s staff have now withdrawn from an exclusive interview which was to have been given to RTÉ this morning by First Lady Laura Bush.
It is understood that both RTÉ and the Department of Foreign Affairs were aware of the exclusive arrangement, scheduled for 11am today. However, when RTÉ put Ms Coleman’s name forward as interviewer, they were told Mrs Bush would no longer be available.
The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.
She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.
And it emerged last night that presidential staff suggested to Ms Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question on the outfit that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern wore to the G8 summit. [Emphasis mine.]— Via Looka!
Awww! She didn’t ask the fluff questions and the White House is all upset about it. They should have known better. According to Carole Coleman she had to submit the questions ahead of time per White House Policy so they knew about her questions three days ahead of time.
Oh, that’s right, Bush has proudly talked about how he doesn’t read the news preferring to get his news from the “objective” people on his staff. Perhaps they should start reading what the news is going to ask the President during interviews then so the President can be better prepared next time.
Via Boing Boing.