US: Reporter heckles President Barack Obama
A reporter of a news website, whose publisher and CEO is an Indian-American, "discourteously" interrupted US President Barack Obama.
Washington: A reporter of a Washington-based conservative news website, whose publisher and CEO is an Indian-American, "discourteously" interrupted US President Barack Obama several times during his speech on immigration.
"Why`d you favour foreigners over Americans?" Neil Munro, the reporter of website Daily Caller shouted, interrupting Obama in the middle of his speech on immigration.
"Excuse me, sir, but it`s not time for questions," Obama responded.
"Are you going to take questions?" Munro asked.
"Not while I`m speaking," said Obama, who like many present at the event including the White House correspondents, was taken by surprise by sharp exchange of words.
Munro, who was carrying a temporary pass for access to the White House, interrupted Obama several times during his speech, which the White House Correspondent Association (WHCA) president Caren Bohan termed as discourteous.
"I didn`t ask for an argument. I`m answering your question," Obama said during another interruption.
Indian-American Neil Patel, who was chief policy advisor to the former vice-president Dick Cheney, is the co-founder and publisher of The Daily Caller.
"The President today announced a very controversial policy and does not want to answer tough questions about it. Neil Munro is a veteran Washington reporter who today tried his best to time his question to be first as the President was wrapping up his remarks. He in no way meant to heckle the President of the United States," Patel said in a statement.
Munro, in his statement, said that he had no intention to disrupt the President.
"I timed the question believing the President was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States," he said.
However, other White House correspondents, who were covering the event, disagreed with the version of Monro, who is part of the White House`s in-town press pool.
After Friday’s incident, he might very well lose his access to the President and to the White House. "That is something that our board has not yet discussed," Bohan said.
"Many reporters who were at today`s Rose Garden event disagree with Munro`s characterisation of events, noting that few, if any, reporters aside from Munro thought the President had concluded his remarks," The Politico reported.
While it is usual for the political leaders, including Obama being heckled at public event, this is rarest of the rarest event that a member of the White House Press Corps heckled the US President.
Tony Fratto, who was deputy press secretary to former president George W Bush, called for Munro to be banned from the White House.
"Reporters don`t interrupt presidential statements. Period," Fratto wrote on Twitter.
He said that reporters "can/do/should shout questions AFTER a statement or a presser" but said interrupting a president is "anarchy & rude”.