Thursday, August 03, 2006

Froomkin: Bush adds insult to injury

President Bush's cheeky, newsless visit to the White House briefing room yesterday was an appropriate sendoff for a press corps that has been unable to get much if any advantage from its physical proximity to Bush's inner sanctum.

And whether journalists are caged in a centrally-located pen -- or in one a little further away -- doesn't really matter so long as this White House continues to treat the establishment press with thinly-disguised contempt. The spin, the secrets, the non-answers and the unprecedented lack of access are an insult not only to journalists, but to the public that depends on us to fully inform them about what's really going on in the White House.

So there was something entirely appropriate about Bush stopping by the briefing room yesterday not to answer (or even be asked) a single substantive question -- but to insult pretty much everyone in spitting distance.

... when former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, famous for shouting out important questions to Ronald Reagan, asked Bush an idiotic one -- "Mr. President, should Mel Gibson be forgiven?" -- Bush responded: "Is that Sam Donaldson? Forget it. You're a has-been. We don't have to answer has-been's questions."

Even a press corps used to chuckling and guffawing at Bush's frat-boy towel-snapping responded with what the White House transcribers recorded as an "Ohhhhh!" over that one.

All in all, an appropriately ugly and useless sendoff to a room where both respect and self-respect have been in short supply.


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