A KPHO-TV reporter, Catherine Anaya, reported that questions from the White House Press Corps at daily briefings must be submitted in advance so the administration has time to prepare a response, quoting Press Secretary Jay Carney as her source in a report from Capitol Hill Thursday.
"And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it's something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask -- the correspondents -- they are provided to him in advance so then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports later on.”
The serious allegation would mean not only that the administration has more opportunity to prepare canned responses to tough questions, but possibly even suggests the practice of screening and approving questions -- a subversion of the freedom of the press, and possibly active collusion between the White House and those journalists meant to cover it.
The video spread quickly and many critics were quick to jump on Anaya’s claims as proof of conspiracy between the media and the Obama administration.
In her report, Anaya breaches journalistic protocol, admitting on air that Carney’s comments were given during an “off the record” press meeting.
“And this was off the record," she reported, "so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well-versed on every single day.”
Carney was quick to deny the allegations.
.@RalstonReports Briefings would be a lot easier if this were true! Rest assured, it is not.— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) March 20, 2014
Twitter and other social media have since been abuzz with reporters and White House staff denying the practice of preparing responses to questions submitted in advance.