As a member of the White House Correspondents Association, I am embarrassed, shocked, and appalled by the heckling of President Obama in the Rose Garden this afternoon – and I believe reporter Neil Munro should be reprimanded by the WHCA and banned from covering press events at the White House.
Those of us privileged to cover the White House, as representatives of the media and of the American people, have a responsibility to conduct ourselves with dignity and to respect the office of President of the United States. No matter who the president is, no matter what party he belongs to, it is totally unacceptable for members of the media to interrupt him, question him, or badger him when he’s in the middle of making a statement.
What does it say about us in the media – and what kind of message does it send to the rest of the world – when the President of the United States cannot even make a public statement in his own home without being shouted down?
Make no mistake about it. Neil Munro does not represent the White House press corps. I know everyone who covers the White House, many of them who have served under several presidents. No one else would think of such boorish behavior – and none of us should tolerate it.
And for anyone to compare Munro’s outburst to those of Sam Donaldson is to insult one of the finest reporters who ever covered the White House. Sure, Sam asked tough questions. That’s his job, that’s our job. Sure, Sam shouted questions out with his leather lungs. That’s his job, that’s our job. But Sam had too much respect for the office of the president to demean the man who held the office. Neil Munro showed no such respect.
A few years ago, every American was outraged when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at President Bush. Today, every American should be outraged when an American journalist throws insults at President Obama.