The amazing thing about this story wasn’t the fact that a reporter got confused, but rather, that so many gullibly took her confusion at face value.
Catherine Anaya, one of a handful of local reporters brought to the White House Wednesday to sit down with President Obama, made news of her own when she said on air that she had been told White House reporters submitted their question for press secretary Jay Carney in advance.The Drudge Report blared the “news” in its banner spot. Media critics leapt. See, the media really are liberal/biased/lazy, they said.
Except Anaya’s claim was completely wrong, as she later admitted.
Indeed, as Tom Kludt noted, Anaya, a reporter for a CBS affiliate in Phoenix, actually changed her bogus story more than once, initially claiming that Jay Carney told her the White House press corps gives him the questions they’ll ask in advance. That, of course, was wrong.
But Anaya also said she’d been “asked to provide” the questions she intended to ask the president in advance of her interview with Obama at the White House. That turned out to be untrue, too.
By last night, KPHO in Phoenix had issued a statement acknowledging “two major mistakes.” Anaya added, “I did not attribute or report factually last night and for that I deeply apologize.”
This is, to be sure, a pretty dramatic misstep for any media professional, but that’s not the amazing part.
Rather, what’s extraordinary was the lack of critical thinking among those who assumed Anaya’s claims were accurate.
Some conservatives seriously thought the White House press corps, filled with plenty of reporters who make no secret of their criticism of this administration, showed Carney questions in advance? Why would journalists ever go along with a process like this?
For that matter, these same conservatives also believed that the media – including outlets like Fox News – never said a word about it for more than five years?
Note, it wasn’t just Drudge falling for this nonsense; the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper actually published an item based on Anaya’s unbelievable claims.
I can appreciate the fact that some on the right want – perhaps even need – to believe there’s a media conspiracy in Washington and that the game is somehow rigged to help the White House.
But a little critical thinking goes a long way.