Monday, June 29, 2009

Danna Milbank Throws Hissy Fit Over Blogger Nico Pitney Asking A Question

I have had some interesting interactions with mainstream reporters. Reporters who work for the local weekly papers are usually very friendly realizing that I’m not trying to step on their story, but am just trying to get information out about what is taking place on the local political scene. Some of them even realize that as someone who is extremely active in grassroots politics, I can give them a glimpse into what activists are thinking about the elections that are on hand.

For the most part, that also remains true with reporters from some of the local TV stations and the larger newspapers. There have been numerous occasions when reporters have called me for information both “on the record” and as background – especially when we’re all at big events. However, there have been times when reporters have acted as though I was “unholy” because I’m a blogger instead of a reporter for their respective newspaper.

It appears as though Dana Milbank from the Washington Post has taken that type of attitude with Nico Pitney from the Huffington Post.

Nico has consistently provided some of the best coverage of the protests in Iran and appears to have as good an understanding of what's going on in Iran as we can actually have here in the US. After he found out he might have an opportunity to ask a question at one of the White House’s press conferences, Nico used social media to solicit potential questions from people in Iran. He asked one of those questions at the press conference. Dana Milbank, who apparently doesn’t like bloggers too much and supposedly told Nico that he’s “such a dick,” ended up throwing a hissy fit and wrote a piece complaining about the fact that Nico was given the opportunity to ask a question at the press conference.

After writing his piece which inaccurately accused Nico of being a “planted questioner,” Milbank ended up being a guest on CNN with Nico. It was here that it became even clearer that Nico’s ability to ask a legitimate question that was eventually ducked by President Obama had rattled Milbank and caused him to have a strong emotional reaction.

This gives folks a great example of why some newspapers are struggling. Instead of trying to figure out why Obama avoided giving a concrete answer to Nico’s question, they go out and try to destroy someone’s reputation by claiming that he’s a planted questioner and doesn’t have any journalist integrity. Setting aside the fact that Obama avoiding the question would suggest Nico wasn’t asking a staged question, Milbank was just out to pull a stunt and didn’t actually help his readers understand what was discussed at the press conference.

In case you missed it, here’s the video of Dana Milbank poorly attempting to explain his outraged over Nico Pitney asking the President a question.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your perspective as somebody who actively engages in newsgathering. I have seen you in the press section at many events, covering them, videotaping them, and photographing them. If any blogger has an up front view of the way working reporters regard working bloggers it would be you.

    I think the Washington Post, in general, and Millbank, in particular (and a few other reporters who shall remain nameless), have taken a hard line on bloggers - they openly resent them.

    I suspect the feeling has been mutual for a while, as the WaPo is consistently criticized for biased and lazy reporting by bloggers.

    Millbank, especially, engages more in slick, snarky commentary than actual reporting. In the end, I think a lot of journalists, especially at the WaPo mightily resent that they are no longer the sole gatekeepers and arbiters of what the public learns. Their worldview and their dominance have been successfully challenged.

    It's interesting that network journalists and reporters from smaller newspapers are willing to work more cooperatively with bloggers and will come to them for insight. That shows me that the biggest undoing of the now struggling Washington Post is its own arrogance.

    Again, thank you for the insight.