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Do reporters submit questions before briefings? It depends who you ask. (Credit: Catherine Anaya via KPHO and Jay Carney via US.gov)

Yesterday saw a lot of attention directed toward Arizona CBS-affiliate KPHO reporter Catherine Anaya, who was at the White House this week. Anaya had a brief interview with President Obama and an off-the-record meeting with White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

Anaya said in an on-air segment that reporters who attend the press briefings at the White House send in their questions to Carney beforehand.  In her KPHO segment, she mentioned she said:

“And then [Carney] also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.”

Clip of the segment is below.

Carney quickly denied that.

 

@RalstonReports Briefings would be a lot easier if this were true! Rest assured, it is not.
— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) March 20, 2014

 

Then, a statement from Anaya was posted on KPHO’s website and admitted she was wrong to say White House reporters turn in questions before briefings. She also denied in that statement that her claim was based on her off-the-record meeting with Carney.

Oddly, the statement was deleted from the station’s website yesterday afternoon without any explanation. A new statement from Anaya was put up in its place later in the day. In that statement, she changed her tune and admitted her incorrect claim about the briefings was based on her off-the-record conversation.

“I reported an off-the-record conversation and what I reported was not accurate,” Anaya said in her second statement. “I took a conversation about the preparation for a press briefing and muddied it with my own experience of wanting to provide a question for the press briefing. I incorrectly applied the process to everyone. That was wrong and it was bad reporting.”

Read more about the Anaya’s two explanations for what went wrong below.

Anaya’s Original Statement

The first statement Anaya issued about her White House claim denied that her claim was based on her off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney.

The statement was published on KPHO’s website but was unpublished at some point yesterday.

While that first statement was unpublished, a screenshot was posted on Twitter showing the full statement.

 

 

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The statement read:

“It seems much had been inferred about my observations following my White House visit yesterday.

“First, I did not take notes during our coffee with Jay Carney because it was off the record. But when I referenced the meeting in my live reports I did say that it was a great opportunity to talk about the challenges of his day and how he has to be so well-versed on many topics each day.

“In my live report I also wanted to share my impression of my experience in getting a question answered during the briefing. I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the President instead.

“My mistake was to lump that experience with my coffee meeting reference, inadvertently giving Mr. Carney credit for that when in fact it did not come from him. I regret giving anyone the impression that it was from conversation I had with Mr. Carney.

“I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists.

“None of my observations stemmed from my off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney.”

BuzzFeed reported that KPHO’s senior assignment editor Scott Davis said the statement was unpublished because “it was incomplete and not ready to be posted.”

 

New Statement admits reporting from off-the-record, and doing it wrong

The second statement from Anaya was published on KPHO’s website in the place of the first one. Anaya said she was talking “unscripted” and admitted to reporting from “an off the record conversation.” To boot, she added that the off-the-record reporting was inaccurate.

It reads:

“Last night during my live reports from the White House I attempted to describe the highlights of the day. I was speaking off the cuff and unscripted and in the process I made two major mistakes: I reported an off-the-record conversation and what I reported was not accurate. I took a conversation about the preparation for a press briefing and muddied it with my own experience of wanting to provide a question for the press briefing. I incorrectly applied the process to everyone. That was wrong and it was bad reporting. But it was not intentional and I would never purposely report inaccurate information. The White House never asked for my questions in advance and never instructed me what to ask. I chose to provide one of my questions in advance of the press briefing because I wanted to make sure it would have broad appeal. I did not attribute or report factually last night and for that I deeply apologize. I pride myself on truth and objectivity. I sincerely regret any harm I’ve caused and I hope that you will continue to place your trust in the hardworking journalists who make up CBS 5 News.”

iMediaEthics wrote to Anaya, but received an auto-message that she is out of the office. We’ve reached out to the general manager at her station for more information.

Hat Tip: Mediaite

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Do White House reporters give questions in advance? AZ reporter Catherine Anaya said so, then retracts

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