Many reporters on the left, and some reporters from the so-called mainstream media, are throwing a it about a question that the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney was allowed to ask President Obama during a White House press conference. This is another one of those manufactured controversies from individuals on the right wing and from individuals from the mainstream media overcome by a powerful sense of jealousy.
Here is the exchange during the press conference:
OBAMA: Since we’re on Iran, I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Nico, I know that you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?
QUESTION: Yes, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions on tonight from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online. And one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of — of what the demonstrators there are working to achieve?
OBAMA: Well, look, we didn’t have international observers on the ground. We can’t say definitively what exactly happened at polling places throughout the country.
What we know is that a sizable percentage of the Iranian people themselves, spanning Iranian society, consider this election illegitimate. It’s not an isolated instance, a little grumbling here or there. There is significant questions about the legitimacy of the election.
And so, ultimately, the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States.
And that’s why I’ve been very clear, ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government.
What we can do is to say, unequivocally, that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with the peaceful dissent, that — that spans cultures, spans borders.
And what we’ve been seeing over the Internet and what we’ve been seeing in news reports violates those norms and violates those principles.
I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that — that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.
The White House apparently was following that Nico Pitney was communicating with individuals inside of Iran as that country’s turmoil was all over the media. White House spokesman Bill Burton came out with a response: “We did reach out to (Nico) prior to press conference to tell him that we had been paying attention to what he had been doing on Iran and there was a chance that he’d be called on.”
This is a totally overblown story spun out of very little. There is no evidence that the president knew what the question was going to be (even if he had an idea what the subject matter might be). I could care less if he wanted to take a question about the situation in Iran from a reporter that the White House felt was in contact with people on the ground in Iran.
Pitney asked a question that was a hell of a lot better than others I’ve heard asked at presidential news conferences.