Out of frustration with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, the White House press corps’ most colorful character — WorldNetDaily’s Les Kinsolving — said that he would no longer attend WH press briefings.
Remember when we recently told you that “Patience With Les Kinsolving Is Wearing Thin“? Turns out that that incident, in which White House Press Secretary Tony Snow singled out Kinsolving for not asking “questions that bear on the President’s responsibilities” and for writing a piece that twisted “out of context the answer I gave you,” was enough to drive Kinsolving and his employer away from the daily White House press briefings.
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah wrote:
[W]e will no longer ask Kinsolving to suffer the indignities of Snow’s humiliating and condescending public scoldings. And we will not be lectured about the craft of journalism by a partisan pundit who never worked as a legitimate newsman in his life.
Farah says that Kinsolving will remain their White House correspondent, he just simply won’t attend the briefings, “unless and until we hear from him that he will be fair.”
I’ll admit it. Kinsolving is a character. He sometimes asks tough questions. He sometimes asks perplexing questions. He occasionally even asks ridiculous questions. But he’s not just “a character.” He has character. He is a living institution — the kind of man who should be honored with dinners and testimonials, not treated like somebody’s crazy aunt.
If Tony Snow wants to have a public debate about journalistic ethics, standards and practices, I’m sure either Les Kinsolving or I would be more than up to the challenge, given our many decades of experience each as reporters, editors, newsmen. Tony Snow’s sole experience in the media is as a pundit — an editorial writer, professional Bush I and Bush II defender and TV talking head.
I’ll tell you what a disservice to the craft of journalism is — when partisan political hacks are allowed to crisscross at will over the boundary between government and independent watchdog.
When reached by FishbowlDC, Snow declined to comment.
But, then, Kinsolving said that he would return, “after a one-on-one conference with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow — ending Kinsolving’s ‘boycott’ of the daily press sessions brought on by what he considered Snow’s disrespectful treatment of him.”
What do other White House reporters think about this? Amazingly, only three out of nearly 40 White House reporters contacted by FishbowlDC (before the resolution) were willing to go on the record about the Snow-Kinsolving spat (perhaps a sign of the press corps’ lack of affection for Kinsolving?!?).
Says the Houston Chronicle’s Julie Mason:
If the eccentrics and oddballs start to feel alienated and unwelcome in the briefing room, then we’re all in danger. I hope Les comes back.
And National Journal’s Carl Cannon:
Maybe he’s is on to something. If we all boycotted the White House briefings because we didn’t like the answers â€“ or the level of individual attention — we received from the podium, the briefing room would be empty. Of course that ain’t gonna happen, so Lester should hurry back. Where will Americans get their executive branch reaction to the latest sodomy news?
ABC’s Ann Compton:
Lester has been here for a long time…I’m a big believer in being an inclusive profession, not an exclusive one…Lester comes in everyday with two questions, handwritten on his clipboard. They rarely have anything to do with the president of the United States…He writes them as embarassments, to goad the press secretary, always has…As irritating as he is, who are we to say that he shouldn’t be able to sit there and ask any questions, as stupid as the ones I ask.
One reporter, speaking on the condition of anonymity:
I haven’t observed that Tony is personally disrespectful to Les. I think many of the questions Les asks would prompt the same reaction from Tony, no matter who was asking them.