WH Theater: HuffPo Q “Staged” at Presser

The White House press office has been known to give journalists a heads-up when the president intends to call on them during a news conference…but today’s theatrics were a tad more “theatrical.”

During the presidential presser this afternoon, HuffPo’s Nico Pitney scored big – a “rock star” location and the second question of the news conference. But it wasn’t a kiss from Lady Luck that landed Pitney the preferential treatment, according to Philip Elliott of the AP.

The AP reports that WH officials phoned Pitney on Monday evening to “tell him that President Barack Obama had been impressed with his online reporting about Iran. Could the writer pass along a question from an Iranian during the president’s news conference on Tuesday?”

Check out Elliott’s article for the full scoop.

UPDATE: The soap opera saga of HuffPo’s “staged question” continues as Arianna Huffington takes to the site in defense of Pitney and the WH. Like sands through the hourglass…

This is what Huffington “posted” (ha! get it?) about a few our Fishbowl friends:

Politico’s Michael Calderone couldn’t seem to get over the order in which Nico was called on. “It was a departure from White House protocol,” he fumed (the DC equivalent of “I’m telling Mom!”)

Dana Milbank went the conspiracy route, calling Nico “a planted questioner” and tossing snarky comments into the mix: “Pitney recognized his prompt”, “Pitney asked his question, as arranged.”

On Politico’s Ben Smith who said the matter was “a nice case of symbiosis, not entirely unlike the Bush administration’s close ties to Fox.”

Now, I know Ben is a busy guy — and I love reading him. But before he decides to characterize a site he really should take the time to, y’know, read what’s on the site.

If he had, he’d have known that, unlike Fox and Bush, HuffPost regularly takes on the Obama administration.

Michael, Dana, and Ben: come in from recess. You guys clearly need a nap. And a better fact-checker.