New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter got huffy in a blog post Friday afternoon on behalf of his fellow liberal journalists, who went on Twitter en masse, aghast at the audacity of a reporter from a conservative news site interrupting President Obama's Rose Garden speech outlining his controversial new immigration policy (a version of Stelter's story also made it into print on Saturday).
The Times was kinder to an Iraqi journalist who hurled a shoe at President Bush during a December 2008 press conference in Baghdad, emphasizing his "defiant act" and "hero status" in Iraq.
Stelter wrote on Friday:
As Mr. Obama was making a statement from the Rose Garden about a new immigration policy on Friday afternoon, a reporter from The Daily Caller, a conservative news Web site, repeatedly raised his voice and tried to interrupt. The reporter, Neil Munro, tried to ask whether the policy -- intended to help young illegal immigrants get work – was good for legal American workers.
“Excuse me, sir,” Mr. Obama said when Mr. Munro initially spoke up. He put his hand in the air and raised a finger, as if to say “wait.”
“It’s not time for questions, sir,” Mr. Obama continued. “Not while I’m speaking.”
A few minutes later, Mr. Obama referenced the incident by saying, “And the answer to your question, sir, and the next time I’d prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question, is this is the right thing to do for the American people.”
Mr. Munro then apparently interrupted again.
“I didn’t ask for an argument, I’m answering your question,” Mr. Obama said.
By shouting out and repeatedly interrupting the president during a speech, Mr. Munro violated decorum at the White House and generated online shouts of disapproval from other reporters, analysts and historians. The incident took place two weeks after the president’s top strategist, David Axelrod, was nearly drowned out at a campaign event by hecklers who had come to support Mitt Romney.
Another incident that came to mind to some was when Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, shouted “You lie” during an address to Congress by Mr. Obama in 2009.
An incident that Stelter left out: Democrats heckling President George W. Bush for advocating Social Security reform at the State of the Union in 2005.
Stelter gave Daily Caller publisher Tucker Carlson a chance to defend Munro.
Mr. Carlson, a former co-host of a show on CNN, “Crossfire,” where the interruption of others was a part of the formula, started The Daily Caller in early 2010 to publish political news and commentary, frequently through a conservative prism. Among Mr. Carlson’s investors is Foster Friess, the financier who has donated millions to Republican candidates this year.
The Daily Caller has highlighted what it calls liberal media bias, and Mr. Carlson said he expected the “Obama worshipers in the press” to attack Mr. Munro. When told that his reporter was being called a heckler, Mr. Carlson answered, “That’s what it’s called when you try to get the president to answer your question?”