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Debating The Iran Question On CNN's Reliable Sources

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This morning, Dana Milbank, Amanda Carpenter, and I appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources, hosted by Howard Kurtz.

It was a spirited affair and folks can draw their own conclusions. Here's the video:


The only thing that surprised me was when Dana turned to me after our initial sparring and called me a "dick" in a whispered tone (the specific phrase was, I believe, "You're such a dick"). Howie Kurtz wrote on Twitter that he didn't hear it, which is understandable -- he was doing the lead-in for the next part of the segment on the ABC White House special. But it happened (I urge Howie to watch the video of the panel during the ABC intro) and it was frankly pretty odd.

For those interested, here are the citations for some of the points I made:

-- Greg Sargent's piece on Milbank's write-up of the "Mission Accomplished" moment.

-- Lynn Sweet's reporting on Milbank's questions to Obama about bathing suit pictures:

"The problem is that that's not what you guys have been reporting on. You've been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit," said Obama.

A small gut check here. An often-used Obama rhetorical technique is to set up a straw-man argument, only to knock it down.

Accuse me, as Team Obama might, of being nitpicking and literal, but it is hard to see where the swimsuit story ate up the time or space of congressional reporters -- or other journalists outside of Washington who may be doing serious reporting on Obama's policy proposals and legislative record.

The circle of reporters who actually did the work of following up on the People Magazine picture of Obama in his trunks includes only myself and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.

We cornered Obama outside the Senate radio-TV gallery after a press conference. Milbank asked a few leading questions and we both wrote columns based on his reply that ran the next day. Between the Chicago Sun-Times running the Obama photo on the front page hyping my column and the reach of The Washington Post, the attention inspired other outlets to do derivative feature stories. Of course, it also made great gab for the cable news shows.