Sunday, March 22, 2009

Laura Flanders: "The F Word: Ask The President." (with video)

GRITtv, with video (02:50):
Amy Goodman called it the Access of Evil...When pushed about the timidity of their questions to people in power, reporters will often--even more timidly--squeak something about their fear of losing access to their subjects.

Access they say, is what keeps them in a position to pose questions, score interviews, and keep their bosses happy. It can be an overrated thing. Segregation, for example, didn't stop the country's best black reporters from covering Southern government in the civil rights struggle. Nonetheless, it's not very democratic what happens in the East Room press conference room. The White House Controls who attends and who gets called on as White House press corps veteran Helen Thomas discovered to her credit when she was banished to the back of the room after raising prickly questions of the Bush Administration.

President Obama has pledged more open interactive government. After the November election, his team invited citizens to submit and vote on questions at, pledging that his staff would answer. About 120,000 people wrote more than 86,000 original questions, and millions of votes were cast. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, did answer several of the citizen questions, but he also ignored the one that drew the most support, about investigating torture and surveillance abuse.

Soon afterward, ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed Obama to address the unanswered question in an interview, citing its strong public support. After the same question was asked by a Huffington Post reporter at Obama's first press conference, the citizen question project suddenly disappeared at the website.

Well now some independent media giving the president another chance. The Nation magazine is teaming up with others to gather questions from you, the public. "Ask the President" uses an interactive portal that enables people to write in questions or submit them as videos. They'll be voted on and posed by a reporter in that East Room press conference, assuming that reporter gets called on.

We’ll have more information on our site. And we look forward to playing your questions here.

We also look forward to the answers. This assumes, of course, that President Obama agrees to participate. I guess that's the first question.

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