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Posts Tagged ‘George Condon’

State of Union Walloped With Bad Press

To look at Washington D.C. publications today, you’d think tonight’s State of the Union was the Shit of the Union. You’d also think it was already Wednesday considering the way Debbie Downer news outlets are trashing it before it even happens.

“Expect to Hear an Absolutely Forgettable State of the Union Speech” blares a headline from National Journal. George Condon writes, “When President Obama takes to the speaker’s rostrum on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday evening, you can expect him to speak for more than an hour. But don’t bet on him saying anything you’ll remember a month later.” He continues, “Don’t blame the speechwriters, though. Blame the occasion.” Party at Jayson Blair’s house? Newsbusters Tim Graham reports that NYT‘s persona non grata Jayson Blair (who left the publication in a haze of plagiarism a decade ago) is hosting a SOTU watch party tonight in Centreville, Va. They say he now works as (no joke) a life coach. And Politico‘s Patrick Gavin just cobbled together “10 SOTU Gripes Hours Before the Speech.” They include third-tier Boybander, Slate‘s Matt Yglesias, already saying “the speech doesn’t accomplish anything.” USA Today, meanwhile, looks at six State of the Union addresses they believe made a lick of difference in American life. Three occurred in the 1800s. The last one they think mattered happened in 2002. It was former President George W. Bush‘s “Axis of Evil” speech. And if this tells you anything, The Daily Caller‘s only story on tonight’s SOTU address is a drinking game they posted at 2:25 a.m. this morning. A sampling: 1. “If Obama says ‘Let me be clear,’ take a shot of vodka or translucent alcohol of your choice.” 2. What’s SOTU without a joke about House Speaker John Boehner‘s orange-hued tan? “If Speaker of the House John Boehner’s complexion looks particularly orange, pour a screw driver.”

Where’s MSNBC resident loudmouth Chris Matthews and CNN wax figure contributor David Gergen when we need them to blather on? It’s just after noon. The speech happens in nine hours. Don’t they have thoughts on the SOTU 2013?

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In Defense of Himself: Daily Caller’s Neil Munro

On Thursday National Journal‘s George Condon took issue with our writeup of Bloomberg‘s Hans Nichols shouting out a question out of turn at the end of the White House presser with President Obama earlier in the week. We said Hans pulled a “Neil Munro,” as in the heckler who interrupted Obama in the Rose Garden in June, knowing full well he was asking a question out of the realm of Wednesday’s protocol. Condon, among others such as NYT‘s Peter Baker, argued Hans was well within his grounds to shout-out a question at the close of the presser. They asserted that it’s tradition for reporters to push and try to extend a press conference longer than the President and his aides may allow.

Fair enough. But Munro, who was largely shunned and criticized by colleagues after his incident, had another take on the matter… Read more

In Defense of Bloomberg’s Heckling Hans

National Journal White House Correspondent George Condon took issue with our writeup of Bloomberg‘s Hans Nichols shouting out a question to President Obama at the close of Wednesday’s White House press conference. We said Hans had pulled a Neil Munro, reminiscent of The Daily Caller‘s startling moment in the Rose Garden back in June. No doubt Nichols came off friendlier than Munro did, which we noted.

At the time, White House reporters, among many others, were outraged with Munro. But on Wednesday colleagues patted Hans on the back.

Read what Condon wrote into FishbowlDC… Read more

C-SPAN Goes After Gridiron’s No-Camera Rule Again

C-SPAN is once again trying to break through what some believe are the antiquated rules of the Gridiron Club. Last year the club changed their bylaws and allowed a White House Pool Reporter to cover their dinner. But C-SPAN wasn’t satisfied — they wanted their cameras to be allowed in. Gridiron’s answer was an adamant no. This year C-SPAN is getting fired up all over again.

Stay tuned…We’ve put a request into this year’s dinner president George Condon of NJ. UPDATE: Tradition stands. FBDC has learned that Gridiron has no plans to allow cameras into the dinner.

See the letter from C-SPAN’s Terry Murphy

Read more

Tapper Tantrum

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney seems to have broken tradition with the way he takes questions at the White House Press Briefings. In the past, a press secretary would take questions from everyone on the front row before moving on to other rows behind those media gods. In recent months, though, Carney is using the “jump around” method. You never know where he might land. He’ll take a few from the front row, then move to the back, then the middle. It’s a move that’s been going on for months, but yesterday, ABC’s Jake Tapper let Carney know that he was not a fan. The LAT reports that when Carney went to take a question from National Journal’s George Condon, Tapper was clearly flustered. Carney addressed Tapper’s concerns and said “Jake, I’ve been doing this for months.” Tapper responded with, “It’s annoying.” He continued by questioning Carney and asking “You just decide you’re going to break with decades of precedent?” Carney tries to respond that he’s “going to ensure that 49 people in these seats-” before Tapper interrupts and says “Okay, then take a question about bestiality, go for it. No, America wants to know about your position on bestiality.” This is a reference to the December 5th press briefing when Carney took a question from Lester Kinsolving from WorldNetDaily. On that day, Carney skipped Tapper and Kinsolving asked a question about a defense bill that repealed a ban on sodomy and sex with animals.

It should be noted that yesterday, George Condon went on to ask about the President’s response to the Wyden-Ryan compromise on the privatization of Medicare. Not bestiality. Is Tapper that into the so-called traditional ways of White House briefings? That anyone not on the front row is a clown? In all fairness, Jake’s not having the best week ever after being passed over for “This Week” for a second time.

Tapper tells FishbowlDC “First of all, let me say this is a stupid issue to be writing about, and if I’d known it would be covered because I said Jay’s new policy was ‘annoying,’ I would never have said anything. There are actually important issues out there, and who gets called on when is not one of them. I’m all in favor of Jay mixing it up and asking questions from reporters throughout the room. They often have better and smarter questions than I do. What I think a lot of TV reporters are surprised by is Jay’s decision to break with decades of precedent and to create a new policy of avoiding first going to the TV reporters who have been assigned those front row seats by the White House Correspondents Association. That said, this is silliness to be talking about, much less writing about.”

We reached out to Condon to see if he was annoyed by Tapper’s outburst. He tells FishbowlDC that Tapper came up to him to make sure he knew that he wasn’t talking about him specifically. Condon says “Jake is a good guy and a great reporter. I took no offense.”


Gridiron Elects New Officers

Gridiron elections were Saturday. The new president is NJ White House Correspondent George Condon. He previously wrote for Copley News Service and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Claim to fame: His bio says he led the reporting team that earned the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for coverage of the corruption of California GOP Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Condon isn’t a novice at this sort of leadership role — he’s former President of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The other officers:

Vice President, Chuck Lewis of Hearst
Treasurer, Robin Sproul of ABC News
Secretary, Carl Leubsdorf of Dallas Morning News.

The speakers at Saturday’s Winter Dinner were Newark Mayor Cory Booker for the Democrats and Tim Pawlenty for the Republicans. The outgoing president is Susan Page of USA Today. The club was founded in 1885.

NJ Announces New WH ‘A-Team’

the white house 3.jpg

Two journos will join forces to be NJ‘s new “formidable” White House team. They are The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder and USA Today‘s Aamer Madhani.

The New ‘A’-Team – Ambinder and Aamer – is going to be formidable,” said National Journal Editor-in-Chief Ron Fournier. “They are smart, savvy and richly sourced in foreign policy, domestic issues and politics.”

They will join George Condon, Jr., who covers the White House for CongressDaily.

Notes on Ambinder:
• He currently blogs for The Atlantic
• He’s chief political consultant for CBS News
• He was founding editor of NJ‘s “Hotline on Call”
• He was one of the founding editors of ABC’s “The Note.”

Notes on Madhani:
• The D.C.-based reporter covers foreign affairs.
• He joined USA Today in 2008 as the Baghdad Bureau Chief.
• His Iraq coverage with USA Today and the Chicago Tribune spans three years.

Ambinder will stick with The Atlantic through the November elections. Madhani begins next month.

Congratulations to Ambinder and Madhani.

WHCA Board Considers Taking Pool Reports from WH

FishbowlDC Exclusive:The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) board late last month discussed a proposal to post pool reports written by reporters on its own website, seizing control from the White House, which has long distributed the reports.

The issue has been a dicey one over the years. During the George W. Bush administration, the White House refused to say who was on the distribution list of more than 1,000, which included lobbyists and government officials across town.

Why, board members asked during the meeting, do the pool reports still go through the filter of the White House press office? White House veteran George Condon of Congress Daily, called to appear because of his knowledge on the issue, explained that it started with the Eisenhower administration when poolers used carbon paper. It was simply faster to have the official White House stenographers help get the information out.

But the practice continued into the Internet age, and, despite the ease of group mailing, reporters traveling in a tight pool with the president still send their reports directly to the White House, which forwards them to reporters.

The board discussed whether it would be feasible to post pool reports on the WHCA website for reporters to access, which means the WHCA — not the White House — would decide who can view them. No decision was made, but the board agreed to have an association “town hall” to discuss how to change the pool report guidelines.

One little tidbit that emerged during the meeting also involved the pool, but concerned who should remain in the small group in the case of a national emergency.

Condon noted that on 9/11, the Bush White House shrunk the press pool from 12 members to five, causing controversy. When that happened, former President Bill Clinton apparently called Ron Fournier of the AP to reveal that the Bush WH had invoked the “nuclear bunker pool.”

Nobody in the press had heard of such a special pool and nothing ever came of it. Condon suggested outlining guidelines before the next crisis.

The WHCA, which voted to raise the cost of the annual dinner to $225 per seat, also decided to continue its tradition of having a holiday party.

FishPoolDC: Our Insider’s Notes from Today’s Briefing

Politics Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: The Outburst Heard ‘Round the CSPAN Dials got a little more attention today at the WH briefing, where Press Secretary Robert Gibbs channeled No Drama Obama and accepted, again, Congressman Joe Wilson‘s apology for yelling “You Lie!” as his chamber hosted POTUS last night. (Creative editing of the classic reaction freeze-frame here: “If you talk to the press secretary of that congressman today, I would not think he’s gone unpunished,” RG said.

But Really, About Those Illegal Immigrants…: Reporters pressed on the crux of Wilson’s grievances — how illegal immigrants will or won’t receive health care — and Gibbs maintained that last night was not the first occasion for POTUS to declare his plan does not include coverage for that crowd. He pledged more than once to check with the WH health care team on whether the proposed legislation would affect the 1986 immigration law that prevented emergency rooms from turning away patients — despite citizenship or inability to pay. NYT’s Sheryl Stolberg pointed out that POTUS used “more than 30 million American citizens” as a figure in his speech, which seemed to be a deliberate distinction to calm the Wilsonian crowd. (Funny how that worked.)

To the Calculators!: Since it’s Back-to-School week, and in honor of a First Day of School POTUS admission that math was not his high school strong suit…. Acknowledging he’s no mathematician, RG estimated that 10-11 million or so illegal immigrants, subtracted from the 46.3 million uninsured Americans, would leave about 35 million or so to be covered under the new legislation, creating what RG figured would be a “2/3 to 3/4″ improvement. The WH might be happy to learn that American citizens make up about 78 percent of the total uninsured. So under the rough figures discussed today, new legislation would actually take care of a larger segment of the current uninsured than our dear press secretary originally assumed.

Sweet 2016: A scheduling clarification by WaPo’s Scott Wilson triggered a number of follow-ups from the “Gentlelady from Chicago,” Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wilson (not of the “You Lie” family) asked whether POTUS would attend an IOC meeting Oct. 2 in Copenhagen, joining the leaders of the other three finalists for the 2016 Olympic Games. “Thank you for bringing it up,” Sweet applauded Wilson, who replied, “No — please.” Sweet took over the questioning but with little response, as RG pledged to verify the potential trip and all but dodged judging prospects for the Chi-town bid. “You don’t just hop over to Copenhagen,” a skeptical Chuck Todd added. When Congress Daily’s George Condon later asked about a POTUS remark about “going to the moon” for health care, RG promised to check on that trip’s scheduling, too.

CBO — As Frustrating as BO?: Gibbs had an interesting response to Jon Decker of Reuters, who asked what organization — CBO, OMB, or other — would be the final arbiter of “deficit-neutral” health care legislation, since Obama has veto-threatened that he won’t add to the country’s tab. “That would certainly be a large part of this,” RG said of CBO, which has ruffled feathers at the WH for less cheery estimates of OMB deficit projections. Following on whether the CBO’s analysis would be “binding,” RG replied: “I didn’t say binding… but it goes a big, big way.”

Gibbs’ 50 Bucks Richer Today

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is doing his daily press briefing now, but earlier he was stealing money from poor, innocent DC journos…


American Urban Radio’s April Ryan made a $50 bet with Gibbs in the press corps’ morning gaggle and was forced to pay up when the White House proved her wrong. “I’m so used to losing. It doesn’t bother me,” she reacted.

The bet was on whether or not Gibbs ever said in a briefing this summer that the President wouldn’t personally go somewhere, like the Hill, because he didn’t have a home field advantage. The transcript was pulled and Congress Daily’s George Condon, who served as a judge, declared Gibbs the victor.

Gibbs: “Baby needs a new pair of shoes!” And just what did he spend Ryan’s hard-earned money on? His brother’s birthday present (so he says).

Via Politico 44.