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Just Make It Look Good

3:11 PM, Jun 30, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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I realize the dust has pretty much settled on the whole Pitney-Obama-Milbank brouhaha over whether the White House planted a question from a friendly HuffPo blogger, but I'm sort of amazed that in all the back and forth over this, no one to my knowledge has pointed out that this whole mess was precipitated by Obama's miscue. From the transcript:

MR. OBAMA: I think that the international community is, as I said before, bearing witness to what's taking place. And the Iranian government should understand that how they handle the dissent within their own country, generated indigenously, internally, from the Iranian people, will help shape the tone, not only for Iran's future, but also its relationship to other countries.

Since we're on Iran, I know Niko Pitney (ph) is here from the Huffington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

MR. OBAMA: Niko (ph), I know that you and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?

QUESTION: Yes, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.

This botched handoff, which has the president flagrantly teeing up the question -- because he doesn't care how it looks -- and then a nervous Pitney unable to adjust under pressure, was just so discordant and clumsy. If Obama had just gone straight to Pitney and commended his good work on covering events in Iran, there wouldn't have been any big story here (it was, after all, the second time Obama had taken questions from a "reporter" working for a website that is essentially a front for the Democratic party). And if Pitney had just kept his cool and not gratuitously announced that he wanted to ask a question directly from an Iranian after the president had just said precisely that...

It doesn't matter much now, but it just strikes me that what really burns about this whole setup is that it looked like amateur hour. If the White House is going to coordinate with a journalist on the content of his question, at least do us the courtesy of making it look good. What fun is it being in opposition if the White House is so brazen that our conspiracy theories are proved right before our eyes.