02/16/2007 04:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

White House Press Corps: Funny versus Not Funny

Lots of things in life are funny.  I like the joke about the guy with the banana in his ear.  On the teevee, The Office is funny.  The idea of Byron York as a "must read" on the Libby trial?  That's funny.
Greg Sargent catches something seriously not funny from yesterday's Bush presser, which nevertheless caused laughter among members of the press.  He contrasts this with some press conference transcripts of yore during Watergate.  The comparison is instructive.  Check out the whole post, but here's what our White House correspondents find worthy of some yucks: 

When those reporters were stonewalled about something they considered important, they got angry. Now let's look at Bush's press conference yesterday:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Sir, we've now learned through sworn testimony that at least three members of your administration, other than Scooter Libby, leaked Valerie Plame's identity to the media. None of these three is known to be under investigation. Without commenting on the Libby trial, then, can you tell us whether you authorized any of these three to do that, or were they authorized without your permission?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thanks, Pete. I'm not going to talk about any of it.

QUESTION: They're not under investigation, though?

THE PRESIDENT: Peter, I'm not going to talk about any of it.

QUESTION: How about pardons, sir? Many people are asking whether you might pardon --

THE PRESIDENT: Not going to talk about it, Peter. (Laughter.) Would you like to think of another question? Being the kind man that I am, I will recycle you. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Thank you --

THE PRESIDENT: You like that one? "Recycling" him. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: That took care of one of my questions, as well, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: If that's the case, sit down. Next question. (Laughter.)

Look, the questions from the Post's Peter Baker were good, and the comparison is far from perfect, because in the first instance a campaign official was being questioned, and in the second the target was the President. What's more, the advent of the Internet and YouTube means reporters' performances at press conferences are far more public and more scrutinized than they used to be -- which probably means it's inevitable that reporters will be more careful and less confrontational. This isn't reflexive White House press corps criticism.

Greg Sargent, ladies and gentlemen, writing for The Horse's Mouth at TPM.  Meanwhile, this whole "Funny versus Not Funny" thing may be worth turning into an irregular series.  Whatcha think?
I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see Rich Little do this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner

Pachacutec blogs at Firedoglake.