Scripted Press Conferences

SCRIPTED PRESS CONFERENCES?….This is pretty weird. Here’s an email exchange with the New York Times’ public editor that was just forwarded to me from reader Tony W:

To: NYT Public Editor

According to Ron Suskind, “For each press conference, the White House press secretary asks the reporters for their questions, selects six or seven of the questions to answer and those reporters are the only ones called upon to ask their questions during the press conference.”

Can you confirm or deny this practice? If it is true, do you feel that the press should inform the public that the press conferences are scripted? This would appear to be a betrayal of the public’s trust.

To: Tony W

Dear Mr. W—,

I’m fairly certain that two reporters at the press conference asked unscripted questions.

Sincerely,
Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Edtior

To: NYT Public Editor

Thank you for your quick reply.

Only two? Was the NYT reporter’s question scripted?

To: Tony W

Dear Mr. W—,

I am uncertain if Ms. Bumiller’s question was submitted to the president before-hand.

Perhaps you might write to the president if you are unhappy with this system.

Sincerely,
Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor

I’ve said before that I doubted the questions were submitted beforehand, because if they were Bush would have had better answers on tap. But this makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

And why is Arthur Bovino uncertain/fairly certain about Elisabeth Bumiller’s question? Why doesn’t he just ask her?