Nico Pitney Explains His Question

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There's been a thread of discussion today about the question asked yesterday by The Huffington Post's Nico Pitney at President Obama's midday news conference. It was provided by an Iranian and asked by Pitney in person, after the White House heard Pitney was soliciting such a question from Iranians and called him to say they wanted him to ask one at the press conference. Some have said that this was too much stagecraft by the White House--orchestrating or even planting a question ahead of time (it was, however, clear that Obama knew it was coming as he looked at Pitney and said he understood he had a question ready to go from an Iranian). Pitney's question was a fairly challenging one. It was: "Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working toward?"

This morning, Pitney called into C-SPAN's Washington Journal and explained the question and how he got it, and how he orchestrated its delivery with the White House.



Here are some of Pitney's remarks:

I had some Iranian contacts write up a Farsi language translation of the request for questions, we posted it on Twitter, there's a Farsi language social networking site...which agreed to post my request on their front page, so we had a ton of questions submitted there. Facebook, we also used and, as I noted, email, so we tried to be very broad...

They were very professional about it. They did not have any interest, and nor would I, of course, have told them what the question was going to be. Their main interest was in --I mean, as I said I had posted a notice on our website. We'd been liveblogging the unrest there for almost ten, eleven days now, and I said I'd like to ask the president a question on behalf of an Iranian. They contacted and said, "Well, we'd be happy to have you do that." But otherwise it was, it went along like any other question, and I felt like it was a tough question , so I was happy with how it turned out.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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