KPHO reporter Catherine Anaya says she made a mistake reporting that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told her off the record he gets reporter’s questions prior to press briefings.
Anaya was in Washington, D.C. as part of a Presidential interview junket where local reporters get an audience with the commander in chief. She told the anchors back in Phoenix about her off the record visit with Carney, which she revealed, “And then [Carney] also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask…or the correspondents…they are provided to him in advance.”
Anaya told BuzzFeed she planned to ask Carney a question at the daily briefing and was asked by a White House staffer to submit it in advance.
“As a local journalist I had no issue providing my proposed question in advance because I wanted to make sure it was an appropriate [question] for a national briefing and I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for Mr. Carney, but in discussing it with a staff member the night before we decided I would save it for the president,” she said. “I was attempting to not waste national time on a local question but in my attempt at explaining that I unintentionally made it sound like that experience applied to everyone. That is my mistake and I own up to it.”
Carney disputed her initial claim, telling the Daily Mail, “If only this were true.”
At 5:30 p.m., Anaya repeated the off the record discovery, “One of the things I found most interesting is that the reporters and correspondents, unless it’s breaking news, they provide the questions to him in advance and so he is already preparing for the answer and…in sometimes…some cases I should say, he actually prepares that answer for them so they can have that work on their reports later on.”
According to BuzzFeed, KPHO posted a statement about the flap, then took it down.
“It seems much had been inferred about my observations following my White House visit yesterday.
“First, I did not take notes during our coffee with Jay Carney because it was off the record. But when I referenced the meeting in my live reports I did say that it was a great opportunity to talk about the challenges of his day and how he has to be so well-versed on many topics each day.
“In my live report I also wanted to share my impression of my experience in getting a question answered during the briefing. I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the President instead.
“My mistake was to lump that experience with my coffee meeting reference, inadvertently giving Mr. Carney credit for that when in fact it did not come from him. I regret giving anyone the impression that it was from conversation I had with Mr. Carney.
“I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists.
“None of my observations stemmed from my off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney.”