After Politico wrote a story highlighting a 16-year-old intern from The Daily Caller posing a question at a White House briefing to White House Spokesman Jay Carney, the Washington Twittersphere went wild. And oh, the outrage that followed. Politico reporters, in particular, had condescending reactions and couldn’t fathom why The Daily Caller would allow a 16-year-old kid preposterously named Gabe Finger to be its White House reporter for the day.
In a story by Politico‘s Jennifer Epstein, she wrote that it’s “rare” for interns attending the White House briefings to ask questions and rarer still for them to be called on. Finger, who had been standing in a reserved area in the briefing room where he was not supposed to be standing, asked about George Zimmerman receiving death threats and then followed up by asking if the family was on their own. Carney snapped, “You can editorialize all you want, and I’m sure that you will, but that’s a ridiculous statement.”
Pissing off the White House Press Secretary. Score?!
“The conservative blog Daily Caller sent a high school junior to the White House briefing today,” cracked Politico congressional reporter Jake Sherman on Twitter. The Daily Caller is not a “blog” any more than Politico is a “a liberal blog based in Virginia,” which is what Daily Caller‘s Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson calls it. Politico‘s White House Correspondent Glenn Thrush also reacted to the teen’s question, writing on Twitter, “Daily Caller guy who asked @PressSec adolescent question about Zimmerman? He’s a junior in high school.” Politico‘s Ben White replied facetiously, “Yeah, but they have more traffic than us so you know.” Earlier in the week, The Daily Caller put out a statement and story declaring that they had surpassed Politico in traffic.
FishbowlDC spoke with Carlson Wednesday afternoon by phone. He referred to Politico as “the rich kids camp in Meatballs” and explained, “They’ve spent tens of millions of dollars, they have hundreds of employees and they’re still losing. They’re looking down their noses at us and chortling, but in the end we’re going to crush them in the hot dog eating contest.”
Finger stepped in for The Daily Caller‘s usual White House reporter Neil Munro, who had someplace else to be this afternoon. “We had a good question,” said Carlson. “Here’s our journalism strategy: We try to ask questions, that’s kind of what we do. That’s our top secret strategy for reporting.” Taking a stab at Politico‘s Playbook by Mike Allen, he continued, “It’s not just about chronicling the birthdays of West Wing employees.”
When asked to respond to the condescension of Politico reporters to The Daily Caller, he said, “Whatever. In the end, we’re beating them because we’re doing traditional journalism and they’re not.”
While Politico reporters seemed unnerved by the 16-year-old’s balls, other journalists around town and in New York seemed awed by it. “I never did anything in high school half as cool as being called ridiculous by a WH spokesman,” wrote HuffPost‘s Elise Foley on Twitter. BuzzFeed‘s Political Editor McKay Coppins replied, “Seriously.” Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner‘s Justin Green had this simple wish: “I’d like to watch a drinking competition between @DailyCaller and @politico interns.”
Carlson called Finger “just a particularly spirited intern. We don’t care where you’re from or where you went to school or how old you are. We don’t care about pedigree and I’m being 100 percent sincere about that. We have a ton of people who didn’t go to college. What’s interesting to me is whether you can do the job. Our 16-year-old intern is more effective in the briefing than those who went to Columbia Journalism School. It’s a completely legitimate question. Why is he the first person to ask it? Who cares who he is? Our job is to get answers to obvious and important questions. Is it rude or disruptive to ask a question Jay doesn’t feel like answering?”
Asked if he would hire Finger, Carlson replied, “In a second, but I don’t think his parents will allow it.”