White House and its reporters rush to debunk claim about submitting questions in advance

Update 3:30 p.m.: The statement has now been taken down by the station, KPHO-TV.

Update 3:22 p.m.: The reporter who initially made the claim is out with a statement saying that, while she submitted her question for the White House briefing in advance, she didn't mean to say that is the general practice.

"I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the president instead," the reporter, Catherine Anaya, said.

She added: "I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists."

The White House and reporters who cover it on Thursday corrected a local reporter's claim that the correspondents submit their questions to White House press secretary Jay Carney in advance of daily briefings.

The claim was made by a local reporter who was part of a team of local journalists granted interviews with President Obama on Wednesday. She said in her report that she was told correspondents submit questions to Carney in advance and are often given written responses.

VIDEO: Truth Teller debunks the viral claim that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gets questions in advance from reporters, then provides written answers. 

Such a practice, of course, would suggest collusion between the White House and the people it covers. It would also allow the White House to prepare for tough questions and provide even-more-canned responses to the questions asked.

Media critics were quick to jump on the claim as proof of such collusion.

 

But after the video quickly spread, those who know better were quick to correct it. White House correspondents responded with incredulity after Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston sarcastically tweeted about the "scandal":

Some missed Ralston's sarcasm initially, but White House reporters were quick to clear things up.

And later on, in case there was any doubt, Carney himself verified that the practice doesn't exist.

As did Politico's Jennifer Epstein:

 

Here is Anaya's statement, which has since been taken down:

"It seems much had been inferred about my observations following my White House visit yesterday.

"First, I did not take notes during our coffee with Jay Carney because it was off the record. But when I referenced the meeting in my live reports I did say that it was a great opportunity to talk about the challenges of his day and how he has to be so well-versed on many topics each day.

"In my live report I also wanted to share my impression of my experience in getting a question answered during the briefing. I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the president instead.

"My mistake was to lump that experience with my coffee meeting reference, inadvertently giving Mr. Carney credit for that when in fact it did not come from him. I regret giving anyone the impression that it was from conversation I had with Mr. Carney.

"I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists.

"None of my observations stemmed from my off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · March 20