Attempts by reporters to question President Reagan about Robert H. Bork after a White House ceremony honoring a group of principals and teachers from 271 outstanding high schools and junior high schools touched off a shouting match yesterday between the reporters and educators.
The reporters remained silent during the ceremony and began to ask questions after Reagan had said, "class dismissed" to the educators and began his return to the Oval Office.
Bill Plante of CBS then called out to Reagan, "Mr. President, it looks like the Bork nomination will fail in committee," prompting the reply, "Over my dead body." Sam Donaldson of ABC and other reporters then shouted questions at Reagan, who went to the Oval Office saying, "Wait and see."
A teacher identified by The Associated Press as John Vassak turned to the reporters and yelled, "You're taking away the joy of the whole occasion for us." Other educators joined in, reprimanding the reporters.
Both Plante and Donaldson responded to their critics. "He's a grown man, and he can take care of himself," Donaldson said of Reagan. "We're doing our job as reporters, asking the president questions."
Plante, answering Vassak, said, "Why should this ruin the occasion for you? You've had your part of the occasion."