The White House appears to have found the solution to Sarah Palin’s problem with pesky press and embarrassing interviews. The White House posted Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s first “interview” on its website and decided it would be better without an actual journalist.
The White House press was interested in who got the first interview with Kagan who is facing challenges from both the left and right as well as questions over her views on terrorism and free speech. Kagan spoke at length and at ease about her childhood, parents and professional career — never fielding a single tough question or addressing a single pressing topic. At the White House briefing a reporter immediately noted “It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president’s announcement. You’ve now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?”
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded “I think it’s — I think it’s on the website if you want to see it.” The reporter then pressed further and said “So a White House staffer interviewing her.” Gibbs responded yes. When the reporter asked whether Kagan has indicated her willingness to speak to a real live journalist, Gibbs responded “She has — she’s not told me that, no.”
The reporter simply responded “Tell her we’re deeply frustrated.”
In the past, nominees have given few interviews and have been largely kept away from the press, which is a bad tradition. While allowing off-the-record interviews with Senators, the American people are prevented from seeing these nominees questioned by independent journalists. In combination with the Ginsburg Rule (which allows nominees to refuse to answer many questions on their views), this press ban allows the White House to block any substantive discussion of how a nominee is likely to change the Court. Unlike Senators who radically distort or steadfastly block questions, reporters have the ability to press a nominee on such issues. After all, the public should have someone asking serious questions questions as some point before giving a person lifetime tenure on a Court of nine.
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