The impertinence of tenacious journalism

The impertinence of tenacious journalism: When U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Rachel Paulose stepped up to the podium on Monday for a press conference about the recent prostitution busts in the Twin Cities and Austin, Minn., she laid out her ground rules: she'd only accept questions on that topic. Most reporters toed the line, writes Powerline's John Hinderaker. But "[t]here were two notable exceptions to the professional demeanor of most of the reporters in attendance. One of the two was KARE 11's Scott Goldberg, whose story evidences his other interests, if not his rudeness. I forget the other, but he too was a piece of work almost up to the Goldberg standard. Let's call him the Goldberg variation."

Goldberg's infraction? Asking Paulose about, in his words, "the questions surrounding her appointment as U.S. attorney and her management style." (Paulose' age, 35, and her coziness with the Bush administration have caused many to wonder about the conditions surrounding her appointment.)

Brian Lambert reports that Goldberg shot back at his KARE 11 blog, saying Paulose's request was not a "ground rule [but] a joke":

In our industry, ground rules are conditions agreed upon by both parties before an interview takes place. The Paulose press conference didn’t begin with an agreement. It began with a decree...

A public official, in a public building, at a public meeting, can not tell reporters they are not allowed to ask questions about unpopular topics. That would be like Tony Snow announcing President Bush won’t be taking any questions on Iraq. Come on.

Let’s remember the backdrop:

1. This was the very first press conference Paulose held after three of the top lawyers in her office resigned their management positions and called her management style into question.

2. This was the very first press conference Paulose held after the news broke that the name of her predecessor, Tom Heffelfinger, had surfaced on a Justice Department “hit list.”

3. This was the very first opportunity we had to ask Minnesota’s new U.S. attorney about the scandal surrounding her boss, Alberto Gonzales.

4. This press conference happened to be taking place two days before Monica Goodling, the White House aide who played a role in hiring Paulose, was scheduled to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Knowing all of that, why on earth wouldn’t we ask Rachel Paulose about the elephant in the room?

[Cross-posted at Minnesota Monitor.]

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