Even by the dismal standards of the ideological "watchdogs" who manufacture accusations of media bias, this may be a new low. In a blog post yesterday that is linked on Drudge, Warner Todd Huston of NewsBusters denounces journalists for allowing Barack Obama to pick his questioners and offers the reflexive media bias critic's claim of a double standard ("Would [journalists] have allowed George W. Bush to pre-pick journalists like that?"):
According to Sun-Times columnist and long-time Chicago journalist, Carol Marin, journalists at Barack Obama news conferences have come to realize that Obama has pre-picked those journalists whom he will allow to ask him questions at the conference and many of them now "don't even bother raising" their hands to be called upon.
One wonders why journalists are allowing this corralling of the press[.] Would they have allowed George W. Bush to pre-pick journalists like that? Would they meekly sit by and allow themselves to be systematically ignored, their freedom to ask questions silenced by any Republican? Would journalists so eagerly vie with one another for the favor of Bush like they are Obama's?
Huston apparently didn't watch any of George W. Bush's press conferences over the last eight years because Bush repeatedly called on members of the press in exactly the same manner as Obama (and they barely protested then either). Here's what we wrote in All the President's Spin back in 2004:
[E]ven when Bush has held formal press conferences, he has tightly restricted the format and the order in which he calls on reporters. While hardly unprecedented -- presidents have traditionally called on a reporter from one of the wire services for the first question -- the Bush administration has gone further than any other, including apparently scripting the entire order for a prewar press conference on March 6, 2003.
Contrary to his expectations, then, the answers to Huston's questions in the second paragraph quoted above are yes, yes, and yes. Don't expect him to admit that these facts undermine the premise of his argument any time soon.