The Washington Post ran a story earlier this week suggesting rather strongly that ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who aggressively takes White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to task on a daily basis, is wasting everybody’s time with a self-serving made-for-TV performance.
Let’s be clear. Karl is among only a handful of reporters – like, maybe three – who are willing to seriously go toe-to-toe with Carney and hold the White House accountable for its actions and its spin. Other than the queries from Karl, Ed Henry of Fox News, and Major Garrett of CBS, the questions range from occasionally strong demands for explanations to, more usually, bread buttering inquiries about how the president feels about this or that or what’s on the plate for tomorrow’s upcoming event.
Tough questions at a televised White House briefing are a service to the republic. They allow viewers to see the White House try to explain – or avoid explaining – controversial policies. When the explanation is nonsense, it’s there for all to witness. What’s more, the inquisitions chasten the White House by forcing officials to consider that they will have to account publicly for their actions.
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