The mainstream media's response to Barack Obama being interrupted by a Daily Caller reporter during a Rose Garden press conference Friday is getting more preposterous with each passing second.
ABC's former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson told the Huffington Post Saturday, "Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices [sic] and political view but for who he is, an African American!"
As a little backround, Caller editor Tucker Carlson said in response to the controversy surrounding Neil Munro's aggressive questionning:
I don’t remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan. And she shouldn’t have. A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We’re proud of Neil Munro.
Donaldson communicated with the Post via email Saturday, and responded:
Never once did I interrupt a president in any way while he was making a formal statement, a speech, honoring awardees or in any other way holding the floor. Yes, almost always when he was finished in the Rose Garden or in the Briefing Room or at a photo opportunity with other world leaders I tried to question him (only rarely was it a shout on the rope line, more often a more normal tone of voice) and other reporters of course did the same thing along with me.
What this man did yesterday is something new, to me wrong and unusual. I think it is probably the result of the growing incivility of the times, the competition among reporters and news organizations to be noticed not only for the work product but for the theatrics of the gathering…and there is one more factor, let’s face it: Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices [sic] and political view but for who he is, an African American! These people and perhaps even certain news organizations (certainly the right wing talkers like Limbaugh) encourage disrespect for this president. That is both regrettable and adds, in this case, to the general dislike of the press on the part of the general public.
For Tucker Carlson to say that he would if he can give this man a raise for this rude attempt to interrupt the president is reflective of what I’ve said above and, to me, lowers my opinion of Tucker.
One quite imagines if Ronald Reagan were alive, he mightn't agree with Donaldson's recollection of his behavior as a White House correspondent. I'm sure many of those old enough recall some extremely contentious exchanges between Donaldson and Reagan back then.
As NewsBusters reported hours ago, the Associated Press in 1987 actually wrote about "grown men and women...shouting at President Reagan at the top of their lungs."
Hard to believe Donaldson wasn't a part of it.
He's been around long enough to know that both sides are quite hostile in attacks on their opponents, and something like race rarely enters into the equation in this day and age.
There's nothing different about what the Right said about former President Bill Clinton than what they're currently saying about Obama.
One could actually make the case that Limbaugh has mellowed a bit with age, and that he was much more aggressive with his criticisms of Clinton. At the very least, he was no softer on that President and his administration than this one.
And no matter what we've seen from conservative talkers and the Tea Party with regard to Obama, it doesn't come close to the virulence we witnessed aimed at George W. Bush from the Left.
I don't recall conservatives saying those attacks were racially based. Do you?
As such, unless Donaldson at the ripe age of 78 is beginning to experience a loss of long-term memory, he might want to rethink his comments about Munro's behavior Friday and how it compares to the past.
As odd as it may seem, he should learn from MSNBC contributor Julian Epstein who asked Friday, "Would the rightwing be doing this if we had a white president?"
Donaldson and all those offended by what happened in the Rose Garden Friday should ask themselves if they'd be as disgusted if Munro were a liberal reporter and Obama a white Republican they didn't support.
It seems a metaphysical certitude there'd be far less handwringing about this, including from ABC's former White House correspondent.