News Conference "Scripted," Reporters Silenced

Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter and author of a regular feature "Ari & I: White House Briefings," was at George W. Bush's first primetime news conference in over a year and a half. He says, "Last night's [press conference] might have been the most controlled Presidential news conference in recent memory. Even the President admitted during the press conference that 'this is a scripted' press conference. The President had a list of 17 reporters who he was going to call on. He didn't take any questions from reporters raising their hands. And he refused to call on Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House press corps, who traditionally asks the first question." According to White House communications director Dan Bartlett, the Bush administration rarely uses news conferences, because "if you have a message you're trying to deliver, a news conference can go in a different direction." However, "In this case, we know what the questions are going to be, and those are the ones we want to answer." ABC correspondent said administration's hyper-management left the press corps "looking like zombies."