Too Bad, So Sad: NYT Triggered by Conservative Serving as Pence Pool Reporter

August 5th, 2020 10:48 PM

On Wednesday, New York Times White House correspondent and MSNBC contributor Annie Karni sounded the alarm, expressing dismay about the state of press freedoms because....The Daily Signal served as the pool outlet for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Tampa?

And that’s not a typo. Karni actually wrote a 705-word meltdown about how Daily Signal executive editor, Heritage Foundation VP of communications, and CNS News alum Rob Bluey flew on Air Force Two.

But wait, there’s more! Karni admitted that Bluey’s reports contained “nothing openly partisan,” he only went because no one else had taken the spot, and it “was not the first time someone representing Daily Signal served as a pool reporter” for the President or Vice President.

Not surprisingly, liberal journalists threw fits when Bluey’s colleague Fred Lucas (another CNS News alum) filled in.

Nonetheless, “Member of Conservative Think Tank Takes On Reporter Duties on Air Force Two” took readers into this supposedly awful, new world (click “expand”):

WASHINGTON — When Vice President Mike Pence traveled to an event in Florida on Wednesday, he was not accompanied on his plane by a member of the White House press corps, as is typically the case.

Instead, seated on Air Force Two in a space normally reserved for a White House reporter was the vice president for communications at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has helped the Trump administration fill jobs throughout the government and influenced policy decisions.

The foundation official, Robert B. Bluey, is also the executive editor of The Daily Signal, a news site run by the foundation to offer conservative commentary and analysis.

On Wednesday, he joined Mr. Pence, who spoke at a “Faith in America” event in Clearwater. Mr. Bluey filled the role of the pool reporter, one of the journalists who travel with the president or the vice president, filing reports on their movements and activities throughout the day, and providing the rest of the White House press corps with a first cut of any news of the day.

The White House has increasingly nurtured relationships with conservative news outlets, including One America News Network, an organization that has been granted special permission to send a reporter to the briefing room despite restrictions put in effect by the White House Correspondents’ Association to keep reporters safe during the coronavirus pandemic. And the administration has long elevated niche outlets that cover it more favorably, while the president has systematically cast doubt on mainstream news organizations by referring to them as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”

The horror! Between Karni, her colleagues, and liberal media defenders like Brian Stelter, chances are slim to none that they would see any issue if this were a reporter for outlets like the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, The Nation, The Root, or the Washington Blade (an LGBTQ paper).

And in that last graph of the excerpt, Karni spilled 88 words talking about completely unrelated topics to the Daily Signal: One America News Network, OANN’s seating at White House briefings, and Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people.”

Furthermore, the two outlets are different on the basis of the Daily Signal being connected to the Heritage Foundation whereas OANN is its own entity.

Talk about a lack of focus, Annie!

Karni griped that Bluey doesn’t “cover the White House” even though he’s “been part of the White House Correspondents’ Association since 2016” and, by his own admission, Daily Signal reporters “maintain strong editorial standards and practices to ensure our credibility as a news outlet.”

After noting that “[t]here was nothing openly partisan about Mr. Bluey’s pool reports,” Karni ominously declared that Bluey’s work of journalism was “as much a story about covering the Trump administration during the pandemic as it is about partisanship in the news media.”

Oh, why would that be, Annie?

Thankfully, she gave away the game in the next few sentences (click “expand”):

There is often a clamor to cover the Trump show and travel aboard Air Force One, where the president often walks to the back of the plane and sometimes breaks news to the small group of reporters traveling with him.

Filling seats to cover Mr. Pence, who does not make news by design, is often a tougher sell. And it has only become more difficult to find reporters willing to travel with him when it also means taking on a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Multiple members of the White House press corps who have been reporting from the White House or traveling with the president have tested positive for the virus. The White House Correspondents’ Association put out a call for reporters earlier in the week seeking a volunteer to cover Mr. Pence’s day trip to Florida as part of the pool. When the organization was unable to fill the slot, Mr. Pence’s office chose the print pooler instead, according to someone familiar with the process.

And when she asked Pence’s office for comment, communications director Katie Miller spit fire, telling the liberal hack that her team “has been working with local reporters and specialty outlets to ensure that all outlets have the ability and access to cover the vice president’s events...Are you worried about conservative bias in the media?”

Predictably, a number of liberal journalists commented on, liked, quote-tweeted, retweeted, or tweeted Karni’s story to petulantly kvetch and moan like Mean Girls.

They included: Kevin Baron (Defense One), John Harwood (CNN), Joshua Holland (The Nation), Andrew Howard (Arizona State’s State Press), Ben Jacobs (New York Magazine), Josh Mankiewicz (NBC), Meridith McGraw (Politico), Brian Rhoads (South China Morning Post), Nick Riccardi (AP), Debra Saunders (Las Vegas Review-Journal), Stelter, Dan Sweeney (South Florida Sun Sentinel), Neil Vigdor (New York Times), Tom Weber (Time magazine), Adam Weinstein (New Republic), and Adam Wren (Politico Magazine).