Okay the much vaunted blogging panel at the Washington Press Club finally came to pass. And everyone who was slamming Wonkette owes her the tip of the hat. I offer the following for your reading pleasure (and a pleasure it is):
JEFF GANNON: What I find interesting about the Armstrong Williams case is that, in order for the administration to get a fair hearing on the "No Child Left Behind" act, it actually had to pay somebody to say it. Because I don't think anybody wrote a positive article about the "No Child Left Behind" act, the cases where it's working! All you hear is the mantra "It's underfunded and it doesn't work."The salvos she fired off were far more menacing than anyone else's (not that anyone was under any obligation to beat him up). She was well prepared, she new what points to make, she went after him and she scored.
WONKETTE: You don't pay someone to get a fair hearing. That's the opposite of a fair hearing, actually, to pay someone to get a hearing. [Laughter]
YGLESIAS: That's simply wrong. I've written good things about "No Child Left Behind". There's been plenty of them out there. There's obviously a debate about this, there are people who don't like it, but it's gotten a really, exceptionally fair hearing, because it has supporters on different spots. It's gotten criticism from conservatives, it's gotten praise from some liberals. And, you know, part of what's so weird about this is that I kind of wish I'd gotten a check, since I bothered to....
WONKETTE (TO GANNON): That is the most awesome defense of Armstrong Williams I've ever heard, by the way. Like, I haven't heard that particular defense. I've heard he's not a real journalist and therefore it's okay that he got paid, but not that you have to pay to get a fair hearing.
JEFF GANNON: Well, I, I think what you're seeing is --
WONKETTE: Then how come the Weekly Standard's not getting paid?
JEFF GANNON: Well, why would the administration do that? If they --
WONKETTE: Because they don't want a fair hearing. They want a positive hearing. That's why they do that. [Laughter]
JEFF GANNON: No, they want an opportunity to be heard. I mean, one of the criticisms, wait a minute, Ana --
WONKETTE: He would've failed them if he'd only given them opportunity.
JEFF GANNON: Ana --
WONKETTE: Wouldn't have earned his pay!
JEFF GANNON: One of the criticisms of my writing has been, uh, that I was, uh, just, uh, repeating what the administration said about any particular issue. Yes! (Pause) I did that!
JEFF GANNON: Okay. Why? Because I was about the only news source that was providing that information without, uh, a filter! And the President has spoken about the filter that the media applies, uh, to his message. There is nothing wrong with reporting what the administration says about a particular issue.
When your story [Wonkette laughs; Yglesias starts lunging for his microphone] - wait a minute! When your story says: "White House supports this particular policy," they give you information! And they give you statements about it!
JEFF GANNON: Why does everything have to be looked at through, uh, a lens that represents every particular point of view?
WONKETTE: That's called 'news'.
JEFF GANNON: But the point I was trying to make is - look what happened to me because I did that. What is the impact going to be for the next, uh, man or woman that goes into that briefing room, raises their hand to ask a question? Are they going to stop and think "Well, if somebody out there, on the left or the right, doesn't agree with my question, am I going to be the target of, uh, this inquisition?" - as, as I have been. And it's a, it's a very chilling, uh, effect that it has on, on the press.
FISHBOWL: Jeff, I actually have to disagree with you here. I think that the idea that you - it's less that people attacked you because they disagreed with the question. They attacked you because they thought your work-product was poor.
And I think that that's an important distinction. They thought that the journalism that you were practicing was bad journalism, and didn't meet the standards of journalism necessary to report from the White House.
And I think that that's a very important distinction. Because it's not that liberals are attacking everyone who reports from the White House. Because as far as I know, there are no widespread calls to kick Fox News out of the White House press briefing room.
JEFF GANNON: Well you can hardly call Fox News conservative. I, I --
JEFF GANNON: I, well, it, uh - laugh! Laugh! Well –
WONKETTE: Do you think that you would've served your readers, hold on, do you think you would've served that vast map of red - or green - readers better if your question had been factually accurate?
JEFF GANNON: Well, uh --
WONKETTE: Maybe that was the reason why people attacked your question?
JEFF GANNON: Okay, I, well, if - my questions always sound like that, and, and if --
WONKETTE: Wait, no, no - you admit --
JEFF GANNON: Now wait. Now wait. Now wait. You just wait a minute. You're --
WONKETTE: You attributed a quote to Harry Reid that did not exist, right?
JEFF GANNON: Uh --
JEFF GANNON: The only, the only thing that I did is I, I left out a little phrase in the question that said that, uh, I mis-worded the question. I should've said "He spoke of the economy as if..." If you -
JEFF GANNON: Okay, if you put that in there, if you put it -- well now - wait a minute, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna parse these questions. We did that in the last administration, uh, parsing, uh, parsing people's answers. Now, now where the -
WONKETTE: So you pretend Harry Reid had said those things!
JEFF GANNON: -- where, where the, where the criticism came from - and I'm going to get down to Garrett - where the criticism came from are liberal operatives who conduct, uh, a uh - their, their whole reason for existing, and it's the Media Matters folks. They, you know - it's an organization uh, begun by John Podesto, uh, David Brock is the CEO - it's filled with, uh, refugees from the DNC and other, uh, left-wing organizations, strictly for the purpose of attacking conservatives in the media. I got into their sights, and, and, that's what got this whole thing started.
YGLESIAS: And they scored a hit. Because your question was wrong, because you were printing RNC press releases and putting --
JEFF GANNON: Wait a minute! I, I'm not the guy that was sitting there waving phoney documents at the podium and saying, uh, "We have, Mr. President, we have evidence that you didn't serve your time in, in the Texas Air Guard! Look, I've got proof!"
[Jeff unfurls his green map of the United States.]
And it was a fraud and a phoney! [Shakes finger menacingly.] And are those people kicked out of there?
WONKETTE: Yes! [Laughter]
JEFF GANNON: The fellow who did it is gonna get a promotion! He's gonna get a promotion!
YGLESIAS: Okay. Hold on. Hey. They lost - they lost their jobs!
You make me damn proud, Ana Marie!!