How to Present the Petraeus Report

Hugh Hewitt at Town Hall has a proposal for the White House on how to present the mid-September report of General Petraeus. He argues against having only an announcement and a press gaggle with the traditional White House Press Corps present to ask a few questions.

It is the right of the American people, and especially those families that have sacrificed so much through the loss of a loved one, and the men and women of the military who are called on to bear the burden, to receive both an unmediated report from the general, but also a serious set of tough questions.

I'm flattered to be included on Hugh's list of "new media" representatives he recommends for selection. (I'm also available.)

Hugh's specific proposal is below:

The Indian Treaty Room in the OEOB can accommodate a number of cameras and journalists.  I suggest that after receiving the general and the ambassador for a first person report, the president ask Tony Snow to introduce the pair for their extended remarks in the ITR, followed by questions from a group of high profile and experienced journalists, wherein each journalist would be allowed three questions.  The only precondition should be that their networks carry the entire proceedings live or, if a print organization or electronic medium, post the entire transcript and audio file as soon as they are available.

The journalists invited to attend and ask questions provided their news organizations agree to the conditions should be the biggest names in responsible reporting:  Wolf Blitzer, Charlie Gibson, Brit Hume, Time Russert, and George Stephanopoulos from MSM,  Bill Bennett, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh representing the vast audience (and three large networks) of syndicated radio, Peter Beinart, E.J. Dionne, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and Nina Easton from print opinion journalism, The New York Times' John Burns and the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks from print reporting, and from new media, Jeralyn Merritt, Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey.  I would also recommend Matt Burden from Blackfive and NZ from The Victory Caucus as representatives of bloggers long committed in word and deed to supporting the troops.

That's a total of 20 journalists of all varieties, representing not only a huge audience but also a broad spectrum of views and constituencies, and certain to present General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker with a wide array of fair but important questions.  If the order of the questions was determined by a draw from the hat, no one could accuse the White House of attempting to manage the news.

Assuming the general spoke 30 minutes and the ambassador 15, their remarks and the 60 questions to follow could consume four hours.

And those four hours would have the huge audience they deserved.

No matter what you think of Hugh's other selections, and there's no need to bash them here, I really like the overall idea that General Petraeus should face questions not just from the usual Press corps, but from citizen journalists with different ideological viewpoints, asking questions that reflect what their readers want to know.

This might be the only time questions can be put directly to General Petraeus. I agree with Hugh, an array of new media should be included, and I think he is to be credited for suggesting the group shouldn't just be composed of those who support the war.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It would be nice if they (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 12:56:58 PM EST
    invited reps from military families speak out as well to get to ask three questions.  I have confidence that you can hold your own in the same room sitting next to unlike minded people ;)

    Vintage Bush (none / 0) (#2)
    by Saul on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 07:39:04 AM EST
    Before, I heard that the White House would be the ones putting out the Petraeus report in September, I always felt that we would never get a honest report from the general. I believe that Petraeus is also another lap dog for Bush.  I wonder what was promised to Petraeus before he went on the surge.  When you come back and give us the report we want in September we got some goodies for you. Wink and a nod

    Latest WH tactic (none / 0) (#3)
    by Sailor on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 03:48:45 PM EST
    White House: Iraq progress report could be Sept 11
    it was originally to be Sept 15th.

    These people have no shame.

    Wow (none / 0) (#4)
    by glanton on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 03:51:50 PM EST