Patterico's Pontifications

4/27/2023

Big Media Very Incurious About How Biden Knew What an L.A. Times Reporter Was Going to Ask Him

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm



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!

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.

Just sayin’.

Tucker Carlson This and That…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:51 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Now that he’s unemployed, Moscow is wooing Tucker Carlson:

The departure from his job as Fox News host Tucker Carlson on April 24 sent ripples all the way to Moscow. The decision seemed so important to the Kremlin that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly questioned it and RT, Russia’s most prominent propaganda network, immediately offered Carlson a slot.

The RT offer, unavailable in the many countries where it is banned, was spelled out to Newsweek in a statement. “We already had the pleasure of working with the greats like [the imprisoned] Julian Assange and the late Larry King and had extended an invitation to President Trump in 2020, and we continue to welcome outspoken, diverse personalities on our network,” it said.

Not to be outdone, the Russian television host Vladimir Solovyov used his Telegram channel to make another offer. “Tucker, come and join us. You don’t have to be afraid of taking the p*** out of Biden here,” he said.

Official Russia’s affection for Carlson seems genuine and profound. Even before Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine 14 months ago, Carlson’s clips were a mainstay on Russia’s tightly controlled state-funded television. The American television host is a household name in Moscow, along with domestic TV figures like Solovyov, Margarita Simonyan, Dmitry Kiselyov, and other spokespeople for the war. Carlson has never outright endorsed the full-scale invasion, but has repeatedly questioned US support and asked, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?”

With friends like these, am I right?!

It has now come to light that Carlson’s abrupt firing likely involved some less-than-professional language used to describe a Fox executive and other vulgarities, thus exposing the company to embarrassment:

Carlson described a senior Fox News executive as a C-word in a text message obtained by lawyers as part of a defamation lawsuit between the network and Dominion Voting Systems…

In a case settled last week for $787.5m, Fox lawyers reportedly convinced the Delaware judge to redact the message from public filings. Carlson, however, was still reportedly furious the network was not doing enough to protect him.

Other messages in which he called the Donald Trump adviser and attorney Sidney Powell attorney a C-word and a “bitch” were made public as part of the lawsuit.

The primetime host’s internal messages were among the most embarrassing for Fox, as he said he “passionately hated” Trump, called for a colleague to be fired for accurately fact-checking claims about voting machines, and bluntly criticized Powell.

Carlson faces a separate lawsuit from Abby Grossberg, a former senior booking producer who claims that Carlson created a sexist and hostile working environment, that she was denied promotion opportunities, and that she was then set up to be the scapegoat in Dominion Voting Systems’ suit against Fox News.

Grossberg’s lawyer Parisis Filippatos filed a motion to intervene in Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox in Delaware to assert her rights to the scope or location of her potential testimony, or alternatively unseal any transcripts concerning her or her testimony. Her lawyers state in the filing that Fox cannot rely on her “coerced, inaccurate, deposition testimony” while simultaneously asking the court to keep references to her testimony sealed….In the interview, Grossberg said network executives were well aware that she was booking guests like Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell for the “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo” show, and that they were likely to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about Dominion’s voting machines.

While Carlson mulls over Kremlin job offers and lawyers work on his behalf, will Fox News continue to be the organ of the Republican Party? Will viewers stick with the network after this latest slap in their collective face? Carlson, like Trump, knew precisely what viewers wanted, and was more than willing to dish up their favorite MAGA gruel. He was rewarded with eye-popping ratings and a loyal following that continued to grow over the years. But Carlson isn’t the first major on-air “talent” to be fired by Fox (see: Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly (Carlson’s show was a replacement). Despite Tucker Carlson’s baffling popularity, the smirking little demi-god forgot that, at the end of the day, he was just an employee who answered to those more powerful than a cable pundit. And like the previously fired pundits, it probably didn’t ever occur to Carlson that he really was expendable. The man created a hostile work environment, he posed a tremendous liability to the company with the revelation of the text messages and was revealed to be little more than a grifter who peddled lies to his viewers. When you consider everything, the real question isn’t Why would they fire him?, it’s My God, why *wouldn’t* they fire him? Ultimately, Tucker Carlson failed to realize that a company’s bottom line matters more than anyone’s ego. Even an organization as powerful as Fox Corporation and as reliant upon its mega-star as Fox News was, has limitations. Only so many hits can be taken. I think that his insatiable ego and financial success convinced him that he was invincible, untouchable, and impervious to the standard trappings of employment. Carlson has always been a smart-ass frat boy with a delusional view of his importance and worth. It might be a jolt to Carlson, but it has been aptly said about Fox News: “They’ve built a machine over there that seems to function even when the pistons are replaced.”

Meanwhile, enjoy this little video that Carlson released last night. It contains his usual talking points and a reminder that he is the one who delivers truth. IOW, typical gruel served to his viewers:

P.S. Despite Tucker Carlson having been fired, rest assured, the First Amendment is alive and well.

Heh.

–Dana


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