The Daily Caller, the 24-hour news publication founded by Fox News personality, Tucker Carlson and former chief policy officer to VP Dick Cheney, Neil Patel, sent a high school student to the White House Press Room on Wednesday.
When this teenager got in a question, he ruffled the feathers of White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, and gained national attention to an issue the Daily Caller thought was being otherwise ignored. This action points out that pulling a stunt may be the only way to illicit a response from the White House.
According to POLITICO, Gabe Finger, 16, a rising junior at the Potomac School in McLean, Va., is an intern at the Daily Caller, a publication called “the conservative answer to the Huffington Post” by the Guardian, and has been “doing good work … all summer,” said Daily Caller spokeswoman Nicole Roeberg. Many think the Daily Caller sent a teenager to the White House Press Room to mock the Obama administration, but Roeberg claims they sent him there because they knew “he’d come prepared to ask a tough question.”
And his question was tough. Finger asked Carney if Obama was going to take action for the security of George Zimmerman’s family who has allegedly been receiving death threats. Carney responded that he wasn’t aware of the threats, that Florida authorities would be responsible for handling them, and that the President opposes “any violence” in response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. “So they’re on their own?” Finger asked. Carney replied, “You can editorialize all you want and I have no doubt that you will, but that is a ridiculous statement,” according to the Washington Post.
Some might call the question of Obama being involved in Zimmerman’s personal security ridiculous, just like Jay Carney did, but Finger did break up the pace of typical guarded exchanges, which seems to be the standard for press briefings with Carney. Questions are rarely being answered in the White House pressroom, prompting disrespect of the whole process.
The Daily Caller essentially pranked a White House press briefing, sending in an inexperienced teenager with a question they most likely teed up for him. This action says a lot about the Daily Caller, but also shines a light on how fruitless White House Press Conferences have been. In general, few questions are answered and few information is passed, and the process has left some publications restless, prompting a stunt. And this stunt made the pressroom briefing process look uncivilized and easy to manipulate.
The Daily Caller posted a response on their site to all the public and media attention with a quote from Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All,” saying that the children are our future and we should let them lead the way. The publication is proud that they let a child lead the way, having him ask a question they think the White House press corps should have asked days ago.
But the press corps might not be at fault at all, and one could blame the distant and vague responses from Carney in non-engaging press briefings. If barely any researched questions from experienced reporters receive a direct answer, then one “ridiculous” question from a an amateur receiving a response can turn the whole process into a joke. Before anymore teenagers wreak havoc on a briefing, the White House might want to think about being more open with the press.