Monday, April 13, 2009

Parroting Words, White House Stenographers And Dana Milbank

Dana Milbank's new column in the Washington Post inadvertently reveals the kind of things that are really important to our White House press corps. 

Hint: it's not about getting answers to questions about torture or about why the new president is using "state secrets" and other Bush administration excuses to cover-up Bush era crimes.

Parroting Words at the White House
By Dana MilbankTuesday, April 14, 2009; Page A02


The White House press corps was in an uncommonly good mood yesterday, owing in part to the Obama administration's decision to reverse years of Bush White House policy and admit reporters' children to the Easter Egg Roll. Some media types were also giddy with anticipation of Tuesday's arrival of the new White House dog. "Can you describe for us the plans for Bo's debut?" inquired Associated Press Radio's Mark Smith, to groans from his highbrow colleagues.

Yeah, the important things are the perks. It's all about the perks!

As most people know Dana Milbank writes a very cynical and sarcastic column about his observations of the Washington scene. Think of him as the Post's answer to Maureen Dowd. Today he was using a "pirate" theme to skewer the White House press conference. I didn't really think his column was particularly funny today until I came across this tidbit: 

The main news of the briefing was the Obama administration's softening of some anti-Cuba policies, a move to placate Latin American critics in advance of this week's meeting of the Organization of American States. The White House deftly limited the visibility of the announcement by leaving the president in the Oval Office (where he, too, could listen to the dance music on the South Lawn) and having a mid-level official from the National Security Council make the announcement in the briefing room -- in Spanish.
This meant that the White House stenographers transcribed the announcement, in its entirety, as "(Speaking Spanish)."

While it was interesting to note that the "transparent" Obama administration was not being very transparent on this issue and in fact, was being downright sneaky, I noticed something else in this comment that was much more fun. The thing that jumped out at me was that Dana Milbank actually left himself open to receiving a sarcastic comment about "White House stenographers" in an article called "Parroting Words at the White House."  

As most people probably know most left leaning bloggers call the White House press corps "stenographers" because they pretty much take whatever the administration says, write it down and then pretend that they've done a good job as "journalists." So when I saw this opportunity for my own sarcastic comment I admit that it was just too juicy to resist. I even joined in on Milbank's  "pirate theme." 

pmorlan1 wrote:

Parroting Words at the White House

"This meant that the White House stenographers transcribed the announcement, in its entirety, as "(Speaking Spanish)."

Well "blow me down," Dana, I didn't realize that the White House correspondents (stenographers) were all fluent in Spanish. Usually when they "parrot" the White House they use English or more accurately, they use inside the beltway speak.

4/13/2009 9:58:58 PM

Yup, this was the first Milbank column I really appreciated. Thanks Dana for providing me with such fun material for my blog post. And thank you Washington Post for publishing pieces that have provided this new blogger with such good material to use for three blog posts in a relatively short period of time. 

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