By this time, the NewsBusters connoisseur will have surely heard about yesterday’s unofficial celebration in the White House press briefing. Like many parties, it was somewhat louder than normal, a bit tense at points, and the press – specifically Chip Reid and Helen Thomas – topped off the early Independence Day festivities by roasting (figuratively, of course) Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
That, incidentally, does not normally happen at parties – even at the White House.
The Robert Roast was, of course, in reference to the recent spate of staged White House press events. The White House press corps, apparently, do not enjoy heavily produced events, such as the “town hall” meeting with DNC volunteers and union members. However, Carl Bernstein, appearing on the July 2 Morning Joe, did not take kindly to the gentle press-corps broiling:
BERNSTEIN: In fact, I think that it's much more effective to go into Gibbs' office as Gibbs suggested rather than do what Helen did, which is to create this great hubbub that makes us look as if we're petty. This is an internal matter. It's not a matter of national policy.
Hold on just one hot second. The (ostensibly) independent White House press corps and the White House Communications Office should conduct an internal discussion of the White House’s extreme aversion to dispensing un-canned information?
Does that not imply (rather strongly, in fact) that the White House press corps is part of the White House Communications office?
Chuck Todd, MSNBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director, disagreed strongly, for obvious reasons:
TODD: And I want to disagree with Carl. I do think – in the press briefing with Gibbs, it is certainly an appropriate place to bring that up. I don't think it's appropriate to bring it up to a President or something like that, but that is – Robert's job is to interact with us and I think --
BERNSTEIN: That's fair.
TODD: Put him on the spot. Because I'll say this. You will get one answer, put him on the spot in public. Make him defend the decision to coordinate with a questioner in public because, as you know, Carl, you will get one answer to that question when there's no camera. You'll get another when there is a camera and, you know what, it's interesting to see how they react when the camera is on.
Now that Gibbs’ somewhat dense response is plastered all over the internet, it must be difficult for Bernstein to disagree.