President Bush accidentally allowed to be interviewed by a real journalist

The President's handlers foolishly granted a Presidential interview (requires RealPlayer, interview starts about 20:40 into the stream) to a non-White House Press Corps journalist, Carole Coleman, the Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public national television network. When she asked him pointed, pertinent questions, he became upset when his stock answers failed to satisfy her. An aide to the President later complained that Coleman had "overstepped the bounds of politeness."

Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries – her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Department's Web site.

Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.

She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless "answers" that satisfy the White House press corps – at one point, he mumbled, "My job is to do my job" – she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.

The president complained five times during the course of the interview about the pointed nature of Coleman's questions and follow-ups – "Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?" the hapless Bush pleaded at one point, as he demanded his questioner go easy on him.

Mark's note: I haven't been able to see the video interview, but I read the White House's transcript (Internet Archive mirror) of the interview, and I think the description above, by John Nichols of The Capital Times, is misleading. President Bush said more than just "My job is to do my job;" he said "My job is to do my job and make the decisions that I think are important for our country and for the world." And President Bush wasn't asking the interviewer to "go easy on him;" he was asking her to allow him to finish answering her questions. That said, Bush's answers weren't satisfactory.


Vidiot sez: The White House complained later that Coleman was disrespectful and didn't ask the "suggested question" about what Irish PM Ahern was wearing that day.

Coleman has responded to White House criticism, noting that she submitted her questions three days in advance.

Andrew sez: "Since I get on with RealPlayer about as well as a house on fire, I wasn't able to watch the link given. I have been pointed here, though; even assuming it's been, ah, tactfully clarified by a White House aide, the transcript is still pretty atrocious – the lines you quoted are still in.

The interview is also available as an MP3.