Monday, June 28, 2004


DO NOT QUESTION THE PRESIDENT (it makes him unhappy)

From about a page down in the article:

Thin Skinned

But someone in the White House is awfully thin skinned.

As I reported in Friday's column, Bush seemed quite irritated by Irish radio and television correspondent Carole Coleman's tough questions and attempts to move him off his stock answers on Thursday.

Here's Coleman herself describing the interview: "He was tough. He was very tough. And the policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, and so they had my questions for about three days. They knew I was going to ask tough questions and I think he was prepared for that. . . .

"There were a few stages at which I had to move him along for reasons of timing and he's not used to being moved along by the American media. Perhaps they're a bit more deferential."

They had her questions for three days? I'll do some reporting today to figure out why Coleman had to to submit her questions.

And this is what happens when you're not deferential, I guess:

AFP reported on Saturday: "The US administration confirmed it had axed an interview that US First Lady Laura Bush had been due to grant to Irish public television RTE, only two days after the broadcaster's exclusive interview with the US president himself.

"No explanation was given for the schedule change, but journalists traveling with the Bush entourage in Europe noted that the cancellation had come a day after George W. Bush's less-than-sunny showing in his RTE exclusive."

Miriam Lord writes in the Irish Independent: "The White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush. . . .

"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."

Ahern, for those who missed it, wore a pair of canary-yellow trousers at the G8 summit that was so garish that the issue was raised in the Irish parliament.

Here's a transcript of Coleman's interview with Bush. Here's the video.

Angelique Chrisafis writes in the Guardian that "Mr Bush has been choking on . . . the gristle of the Irish media. Expecting nothing more than a gentle probing from a friendly state which America 'helped' to prosper, he gave the first White House interview to an Irish journalist for 20 years. But the state broadcaster RTE subjected him to a grilling which left him fuming and had media commentators and licence-payers debating the Irish style of journalism."

In fact, some bloggers are wondering why the American press corps can't be less deferential.

To be continued.

So set aside the whole having to submit questions 3 days in advance, and then refusing press coverage when the White House doesn't like the coverage. What really kills me is that we're talking about a democratically 'elected' leader who is pissy when he's forced to answer questions. Impeach him, vote him out, get rid of him!

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