NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Maybe you’ve heard about the huddle the reporters covering Mitt Romney’s campaign had. They spoke among themselves before Romney’s press availability on Wednesday, a few minutes before the candidate made is remarks about the attacks on our diplomat in Libya. It was overhead on an open mic. http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/12/open-mic-shows-reporters-coordinating-questions-to-romney
People ask me ‘how often does that happen?’
Answer: never, with a few exceptions.
I’ve been with reporters who’ve huddled before a debate. There’s nothing unusual about that. If three reporters are going ask questions, it makes sense that they don’t all ask the same thing.
There use to be unwritten rules for news conferences. If the person giving the news conference refuses to answer a question, it was always considered good form for the next reporter who was called on to ask the same question --- so there was no easy way to get off the hook. There were also unwritten rules that credible reporters would never accept a planted question. You were considered a patsy if you agreed in advance to ask something in exchange for knowing with certainty that you’d be called on. In the current White House, several fluff magazines have sent reporters to Presidential news conferences and have asked the questions the Administration wanted them to.
But chit-chat between reporters before the Romney event was unprecedented, and was a blatant effort to shape the way the story would unfold.
And, for what it’s worth, objective news editors and other journalists should be angry about it. They aren’t at the news conference; they get the same sound bites everyone else does to write their stories. For the moment to be manipulated the way it was, and for them to not know about it, is problematic. The latest black-eye for journalism is that it’s painfully clear which candidate they’d rather be covering.