Live-Blogging: Brookings Panel on “The View From the White House Press Room Podium”

c(We’re here at the Brookings Institution for a panel with Dana Perino, Mike McCurry, Ron Nessen and Stephen Hess).

Perino: “I can take my office with me with my Blackberry.”

Perino: With the 24 hour news cycle and Internet, “every news organization acts like a wire service. … Sometimes accuracy gets sacrificed for speed. … More people are seeing the news and getting the news in different ways.”

How she stays calm: “I try to know my audience. I try to read everything that the reporters in the briefing room are writing. I try to take an interest in what they’re interested in. I try to anticipate their needs. …I always want to know more than they do.”

Will the Internet ever replace the daily press briefing? She doubts it. “There is something about having to show up everyday at the podium and answering questions from reporters who are demanding answers.”

Perino: “I’m hoping that the newspapers survive.”

More after the jump…


McCurry: “We are held to a different standard for accuracy.”

Perino: “You never get in trouble for something you didn’t say.”

McCurry: “The press can print what they think is true one day and then do something different tomorrow. It’s a very unfair fight. … We don’t have a corrections box.”

Nessen: “You can’t lie. Your credibility will be destroyed. … I always told reporters ‘I can’t comment right now…”

Perino: “I once got some great advice…If a reporter asks you a question about a story you don’t want to talk about, just keep saying their name in the answer so they won’t be able to quote it, because they won’t want their name in the answer.”

Perino: “I think we’ve had plenty of press conferences. I think he answers plenty of questions from the press. … I think that the president takes a lot of questions over the course of time.” She criticizes American journalists who, when covering the president abroad, ask questions about “petty politics back home.” “It’s sort of embarassing.”

Perino: “One of the nice things about President Bush is that he believes that the press secretary should have a seat at the table if they want to. … I see him when I need to but I try not to be a pest.”

McCurry: “It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble; it’s what someone forget to tell you. … You’re taking a graduate oral exam everyday at 1 o clock and mastering the material…is important and all goes into the job.”

Perino on whether the WH press corp is fair: She gives them an 8 (on a scale from 1-10). “It’s outside the briefing room and the numerous opinion [pundits] that are not fair at all. I give them a zero.”

McCurry: “The reporters who show up on that beat day in and day out are really among the top in the world.” Perino: “Absolutely.”

Perino: Oftentimes “analysis” is just “thinly veiled opinion.” “And the next day they want to come back and be treated like a regular journalist. … It’s become a big problem for us.”

Nessen’s advice for Robert Gibbs: “Never lie, never cover up. … Never give a reporter information off the record unless you want to see something on the front page of the Washington Post because I don’t think anything is off the record nowadays. … Leave the leaking to someone else. … Never expect to see your family until the term of the president is over. … Get your information first hand. … Develop very thick skin.”

McCurry expresses a wish to change the televised briefings (which he started): “I should have implemented the rule that exists at the State Department which is that the briefing is not a live news event. It is something that is part of the source material that a reporter uses to figure out how to cover a story that’s being covered. … It’s not an event worthy of being transmitted immediately. … No live transmission or coverage of the briefing until its over unless there’s critical breaking news that gets made, in which case the senior correspondents request a filing break.”

Perino: “Unfortunately I think the horse is out of the barn. … I think there are people who play to the cameras and don’t always show up.”

Perino: “The media play a very important role. I’d like to see more reporters not less.”

Perino: “There are things I don’t know about. There are things I don’t need to know about.”

Perino: “I think I’ve only asked to be included in a couple of meetings where I thought I was being excluded or just forgotten.”

Perino: “A blogger can be a journalist and a journalist can be a blogger but there are only so many seats. … That’s something that the next adminstration will have to wrestle with.”

McCurry: “Those kind of decisions you send back to the White House Correspondents’ Association.”

McCurry: “It’s disheartening running into reporters on the street who’ve been laid off. … But there’s going to be an explosion of new things created where their ablity to capture a story will blossom somewhere else. We’re going through that shakeout. It’ll be different, but it’ll be better.”