Posted: November 26, 2008, 5:00 PM by Kelly McParland Remember when everyone in the Ottawa press gallery got all worked up because Stephen Harper insisted on picking which reporters would ask him questions?
Oooh, they were upset. It was the start of a major confrontation between the Ottawa press pack and the prime minister that raged for months, and still flares up today under certain phases of the moon. The gallery was accustomed to deciding who would ask questions, according to a formula developed in the first post-Confederation government of Sir John A. Macdonald and handed down carefully from one gallery president to the next ever since. Mr. Harper’s determination to select questioners all on his own was viewed as evidence of his manipulative, controlling nature. As was his effort to bypass the gallery itself by seeking out members of regional media on those occasions when he travelled outside the capital. The sneaky bugger.
So what are we to make of this account of Barack Obama’s recent press conferences?
The rigidy of the formula for assigning questions under White House press rules makes Ottawa’s standards look like limp spaghetti. Yet the president-elect (who is a Democrat, mind) threw the rules away and selected questioners according to his own formula! Picked them himself! More than that, he bypassed some of the Lords of the White House Gallery and entertained queries from local reporters. Just like Harper.
According to Politico, which ran the story, “on Tuesday, Obama ignored reporters from the Associated Press and New York Times who were seated in the front row and instead looked a few rows back for Andy Shaw, a reporter with Chicago’s ABC affiliate.”
If this happened in Ottawa, the squawk would be deafening. But when it’s a popular, left-wing president-elect? Maybe not.