Next Question, PLEASE!

Brian Cook

Ah, the irony… Check out the transcript from the January White House press conference and the comments immediately before the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert softball toss: Q Mr. President, do you think it's a proper use of government funds to pay commentators to promote your policies? THE PRESIDENT: No. Q Are you going to order that -- THE PRESIDENT: Therefore, I will not pay you to -- (laughter.) Q Fair enough. Are you ordering that there be an end to that practice? THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I am. I expect my Cabinet Secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence. And Mr. Armstrong Williams admitted he made a mistake. And we didn't know about this in the White House, and there needs to be a nice, independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press. So, no, we shouldn't be going for it. Yes, sir. Q Well, Mr. Williams made a mistake -- THE PRESIDENT: Who? Q Mr. Williams made a mistake. Did the Department of Education make a mistake? THE PRESIDENT: Yes. They did. Q What will happen to the people that made this decision? THE PRESIDENT: We've got new leadership going to the Department of Education. But all our Cabinet Secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet. I'm confident you'll be, over the course of the next four years, willing to give our different policies an objective look -- won't you? Yes, I can see that. Yes, sir. [to Jeff Gannon] Q Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality? Okay, we'll bite. The White House knew nothing of Armstrong Williams. But what about the "reporter" sitting ten feet away from the president with the White House-issued press pass? --ACTUALLY posted by ITT intern extraordinaire Chrisopher "No, my last name does not end in 's'" Burrow

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Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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