UPDATE: Catherine Anaya has largely walked back her story:
“Last night during my live reports from the White House I attempted to describe the highlights of the day. I was speaking off the cuff and unscripted and in the process I made two major mistakes: I reported an off the record conversation and what I reported was not accurate. I took a conversation about the preparation for a press briefing and muddied it with my own experience of wanting to provide a question for the press briefing. I incorrectly applied the process to everyone. That was wrong and it was bad reporting. But it was not intentional and I would never purposely report inaccurate information. The White House never asked for my questions in advance and never instructed me what to ask. I chose to provide one of my questions in advance of the press briefing because I wanted to make sure it would have broad appeal. I did not attribute or report factually last night and for that I deeply apologize. I pride myself on truth and objectivity. I sincerely regret any harm I’ve caused and I hope that you will continue to place your trust in the hardworking journalists who make up CBS 5 News.”
If you’ve ever thought that Jay Carney’s press conferences sometimes seem a bit too scripted, it could very well be because they are. Additionally, if you’ve ever thought that President Barack Obama’s handlers constrain his “chattiness” when with reporters, it’s because they apparently do.
In the first of two segments carried at the Weekly Standard, Catherine Anaya, a TV reporter with Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO, says that “the questions that the reporters actually ask” Carney “are provided to him in advance.” Additionally, “sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them.” In a second segment, Anaya reveals that during her interview of President Obama, his handlers employed a hovering aide with a countdown clock and insisted that they be conducted with everyone standing. The YouTubes and transcripts follow the jump.
Anaya: It was a very busy day. We started here shortly after 8 o’clock with a coffee with press secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing.
And this was the off-the-record so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well versed on every single day.
And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — or the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.
(Regarding Anaya’s Obama interview)
Anaya: We immediately launched into our interview because there was a person standing behind him actually counting down to the four minutes. And by the time he answered my last question, I realized that we had already gone over the four minutes, so that’s why I took an opportunity to sort of ask a lighter question afterward because I figured at that point, you know, why not? I have nothing to lose.”
But what was interesting–a side note–is the reason why we’re standing, I was told by one of his staffers, is because he likes to get comfortable when he’s sitting and he tends to get very chatty. And so this was another way to keep him–and us–at the four minutes that they were suggesting that we not go over.
Local Anchor: Yeah, and it sounds like the pressure is on when some guy is standing behind him with a countdown clock. That’s a little ridiculous.
Carney, of course, is denying what Anaya has reported. Ed Henry of Fox News and Jake Tapper at CNN have called Anaya “wrong.” Fine, but it would seem that Anaya claimed is quite rich in detail to the point where it’s hard to imagine that she would have made it all up out of thin air.
Let’s see if Ms. Anaya, who seemed awfully supportive of the President’s agenda in her seven-minute interview (the looming aide may have let it go on longer because of that, and Anaya’s final questions concerned the NCAA tournament) is inclined to defend herself, or takes back what she said. It is admittedly beyond odd that someone in Anaya’s position wouldn’t question the propriety of what she alleges she learned about Carney’s routine.