In a serious breach of etiquette, Neil Munro heckled the president and was immediately condemned.
An extremely unusual occurrence happened today as President Obama spoke at the White House. The president was offering a statement on his executive order suspending deportations for certain illegal immigrants brought here as children (for more on what the move means, read Garance Franke-Ruta's explanation) when a reporter started heckling him and shouting questions.
The reporter has been identified as Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, a conservative online news outlet run by Tucker Carlson. Though it employs some talented journalists, the site has become known for partisan chicanery. Perhaps most notably, the DC ran a story alleging that the EPA planned to hire 230,000 new workers -- or roughly 10 percent of the entire federal workforce -- and then refused to retract the story in the face of widespread and justified mockery.
Interrupting the president mid-speech is considered a serious breach of etiquette, and Obama's reaction shows how peeved (and probably taken aback) he was. Munro, and the Daily Caller, have immediately come in for harsh criticism by a wide range of journalists, including conservative ones. The problem isn't that Munro was asking tough questions; it's that he interrupted the commander-in-chief to ask them and in doing so guaranteed that none of the assembled press would be able to ask any serious questions -- since it's fairly clear that Munro's query was intended as provocation.
To be sure, the relationship between the White House and the press corps is an important one to scrutinize. There are legitimate questions about whether it's too cozy, as exemplified by the lead-up to the war in Iraq. But this is not the way to answer those concerns.
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