DODGING BULLETS….On campaign conference calls, reporters who want to ask questions press *1 and are put in a queue. When their turn comes up, they get to ask their question. But David Corn reports that there are exceptions:

This is not how the McCain campaign does it. When a reporter calls in for a conference call, he or she is asked by an operator to provide his or her name and media outlet. Then when it comes time for questions, there is a long pause — long enough for someone in the campaign to select whom should be called on. This has caused several journalists who have participated in these calls to wonder: is the McCain campaign screening reporters, and, if so, on what basis? A reporter for a progressive media outlet says that he has tried at least half a dozen times to ask a question on a McCain conference call and has had never been selected.

The same has happened to me. No matter how quickly I press *1, I’m never afforded the opportunity to pose a question….In an email, I asked Jill Hazelbaker, McCain’s communications director, if the McCain campaign was screening reporters in an attempt to manage the conference calls. She did not reply. I called the campaign’s media office and posed the same question. The woman who answered placed me on hold. A few moments later, she told me that a press officer would soon call with an answer. No one ever did.

Right-wing bloggers with softball questions, however (“Can you address…that Barack Obama doesn’t have any executive experience at all?”) seem to have no trouble being called on. That’s some straight talkin’!