After Fox News settled its litigation with Dominion Voting Systems for the staggering sum of $787 million dollars, many noted the fact that Fox News’s coverage of the settlement somehow failed to mention the settlement amount. Fox News viewers will never learn about this! the critics said . . . and they were right!
But is Fox News the only organization that behaves this way?
Yesterday Joe Biden appeared to have advance knowledge of a question that he was asked by an L.A. Times reporter. I’ll hand the microphone to Fox News:
As Biden spoke alongside South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in the White House Rose Garden, a photographer captured a small cheat-sheet in the president’s hand signaling he had advanced knowledge of a question from Los Angeles Times journalist Courtney Subramanian. The small paper also included a picture of the reporter along with the pronunciation breakdown of her last name. “Question #1” was handwritten at the top of the sheet, indicating the president should call on her first at the conclusion of his remarks.
“How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?” read the question in Biden’s hand.
The reporter, who was in fact called upon first but whose last name was omitted by the president, asked Biden, “Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing. Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?”
It’s not exactly the same question, but Biden clearly had notice of the substance of the question. Hmmmm!
Since I never got the questions in advance I’m curious how this went down
Did @cmsub of @latimes voluntarily let @POTUS know what she would ask or did @PressSec ask for it or make it a condition of getting an answer pic.twitter.com/sFZHp0DFar
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) April 27, 2023
This seems like a big deal. The President of the United States — who, you might remember, is 80 years old and seems to have his events scripted to an almost ridiculous degree — knows in advance the substance of a question that a reporter was going to ask? Is this true of all questions asked by the White House press corps, or just this reporter/newspaper? One would think news organizations would be interested in such a story.
But when you Google the reporter’s name to learn who has written about the story, you notice a curious fact: nearly all of the outlets mentioning the story are right-wing outlets like Fox News or the New York Post:
The New York Times has not said a word about it:
And the L.A. Times has not reported about it. The stories available if you click the link do not mention the controversy.
Reminds one of Fox News’s refusal to report on the damning details of its own settlement, doesn’t it? Why, if you’re a reader of the L.A. Times or the New York Times — or both! — you would never know that there is a controversy over how the President of the United States had advance knowledge of the content of a reporter’s question.
Seems odd, no?
Not really. Not if you understand how Big Media routinely ignores evidence that serves the agenda of those gross people on the right. The attitude is: “Let right-wing media cover that.” Is there evidence that some people who transition to a different gender regret it and want to transition back? Let right wing media cover that! Is there evidence that statistical disparities in police shootings of black men line up with statistical disparities in black men killing police? Let right wing media cover that! Is there evidence that Hunter Biden really did commit crimes, or that some teachers want to indoctrinate schoolchildren in ideology that shames white kids for being white? Let right wing media cover that!
And apparently, even when there is photographic evidence that the President of the United States had advance knowledge of a reporter’s question, the attitude even for that issue is Let right wing media cover that!
What is really going on here? To its credit, the Washington Post actually has published a piece about the controversy. Paul Farhi, quoting an anonymous “veteran White House reporter,” says this sort of thing has been going on for years:
How did Biden — or, more accurately, his press handlers — know that question was incoming, and know to call on Subramanian? The answer is because they asked her.
For many years, White House press employees have routinely polled reporters about their priorities and interests in advance of news meetings to anticipate what their boss might be asked when he or she appears on the podium. The practice is also common in news conferences with cabinet secretaries, such as the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State.
“Every White House press office will try to go around and take the temperature” of reporters, said a veteran White House reporter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his employer had not authorized him to comment. “They want to look smart in preparing their boss for what we’ll throw at him.”
Farhi reports that the L.A. Times has denied feeding the question to the White House . . . but it also sounds like she kinda sorta did, with a wink and a nod:
White House officials declined to speak on the record, and Subramanian didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times, Hillary Manning, said Subramanian didn’t provide White House officials with a specific or even general question in advance of the news conference. However, while covering Biden on a trip abroad, the reporter mentioned to officials that semiconductors was “one of several topics she might want to cover,” said Manning.
The White House also polls reporters before press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s daily briefings, and before “gaggles” (informal gatherings with officials). The inquiries come via email or in person. Another reporter — who also who spoke on the condition of anonymity because their employer hadn’t authorized them to talk about the topic — said that a White House press staffer emailed them recently asking “if there were any topics in particular” that they wanted to explore at an upcoming gaggle.
I’m not sure how much credence I am going to give to anonymous reporters about how long this has been going on. But the idea that this sort of thing happens seems to be corroborated by that very revealing admission by the L.A. Times spokeshole, doesn’t it?
Why would a reporter say “topic x” is a topic they might want to cover? How is that remotely ethical in any way? Why would a reporter choose to make such a statement to officials, knowing they will repeat it to the president? The answer is obvious: because they know that if they feed their questions to the White House in advance — not by saying “I will ask x” but through the far more deniable stratagem of saying “x is one of several topics I might want to cover” — they know the president is more likely to call on them.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your wrinkled 80-year-old back.
It’s pretty much the incestuous crap that cynical people expect, and for the L.A. Times to deny it in this Clintonian parsing fashion is an insult to the intelligence of anyone truly paying attention. They got caught and they ought to own up to it.
But, like Fox News and its massive $787 million payout, the L.A. Times hopes to bury the story and hope their readers never find out about it. And the rest of Big Media, for the most part, will help them out . . . because they play the same game.
So if you’re part of Big Media and you want to rant and rave about how Fox News is hiding facts from its readers, go ahead. I mean, you’re right, after all. But once you’re done, you might want to check for the mote in your own eye.