In Thursday’s episode of ABC’s Scandal, one scene portrays the government-media relationship in a way more detached from reality than a prediction made by Dick Morris.
The first lady and widow of a just-found-dead preacher are seated on a sofa with a White House pool reporter roughly six feet away. The first lady expresses her condolences to the widow, who had previously been instructed by the main character, Olivia Pope, to simply say “thank you.” Repeatedly. Instead, the widow pipes up and under her breath says her husband “had a mistress.” Attempting to take notes, the pool reporter, a young blonde woman, says she “didn’t hear that.”
Before the widow has time to repeat herself, the first lady asks that the entire room be cleared, including the reporter, for a “moment of prayer.” The reporter obeys without question.
Here’s how it would have happened: The first lady asks the reporter — in all likelihood a person who looks and behaves more like The Daily Caller‘s Neil Munro — to leave the room for a moment of prayer. The Munro-like reporter would have, at the very least, followed up with a shouted “WHAT DID YOU SAY, WIDOW?!”
Former White House reporter Julie Mason filled us in further on what was off about the scene. “In reality, the pool probably wouldn’t even be within shouting distance [of the first lady], let alone whisper-accessible,” said Mason, a host on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel. “As for stepping politely outside, the pool would more likely be herded up and shown the door by a staffer who was shouting ‘THANK YOU.'”
UPDATE: Christian Science Monitor‘s David Grant backs up Mason. “[S]aid reporter would have gotten tossed out of the room pretty quickly as soon as the principle (in this case, the first lady) wanted you gone,” he told us. Grant, however, dismissed the idea of a Munro-like reporter shouting at a suffering widow. “Yeah, that’s doubtful. I think it’s incumbent on the press to keep things in perspective: The difference is clear between badgering a widow and trying to get the President to answer a question at the end of a press conference. If you can ask unobtrusively, then ask. If you can’t, it’s over.”
Other details from the show that would never happen in D.C.: The said “mistress” shows up at the National Cathedral for the funeral of the deceased preacher. Under the advice of Pope, the widow reluctantly lets the mistress in to avoid any further repercussions. At the funeral’s end, the widow appears to have found total compassion, puts her arm around the mistress and walks her down the aisle to view the casket.
Here’s how that would have happened in real life: