I am having my morning coffee. It's beans that I bought from Ikea in Charlotte, NC as I was returning home one afternoon. Ikea has a section called "Ikea Food" where you can pick up lots of treats imported from Sweden.
With the morning coffee, I like a dose of the news from Democracy Now. They work real hard to dig deep, present alternative viewpoints, and give time to voices that are often silenced or hard to hear in the corporate world of info-tainment. Sometimes they get powerful and/or famous people. Just this week they had an interview with the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. I've seen Evo Morales of Bolivia on there, too. Also, Bill Clinton called into the show when he was president.
The phone conversation with Bill Clinton was fascinating and instructive as to how the White House works with or against the press. Clinton was doing some political stumping and was hoping for a quick and easy chat with Democracy Now anchor, Amy Goodman. Amy never gives a free pass to anybody, so she quickly started to talk real issues with the president. This threw Clinton for a loop, though he stayed on the phone a surprisingly long time. The White House called back and stated to chew out Amy for straying from the script. I think they are not used to unmanaged interviews. 😀
Here's what Amy wrote about her chat with the White House:
We were amazed that President Clinton had stayed on the phone for so long. We quickly produced a transcript of the interview, alerted the press, then ran the interview during our regular broadcast the following day.
After the show, I got a call from the White House press office. A staffer let me know how furious they were at me for "breaking the ground rules for the interview."
"Ground rules?" I asked. "What ground rules? He called up to be interviewed, and I interviewed him."
"He called to discuss getting out the vote, and you strayed from the topic. You also kept him on much longer than the two to three minutes we agreed to," she huffed.
"President Clinton is the most powerful person in the world," I replied. "He can hang up when he wants to."
The Clinton administration threatened to ban me from the White House and suggested to a Newsday reporter that they might punish me for my attitude by denying me access-not that I had any to lose. White House spokesman Elliot Diringer said, "Any good reporter understands that if you violate the ground rules in an interview, that is going to be taken into account the next time you are seeking an interview."
First of all, we hadn't agreed to any ground rules. Clinton called us. Second, we wouldn't have agreed to any. The only ground rule for good reporting I know is that you don't trade your principles for access. We were treating the president not as royalty, but as a public servant accountable to the people.
The entire Clinton/Goodman chat is here if you want it.
Anyway, this is how I like to start my day: good coffee and real news. Screenshot below.
Image is clickable for greater detail. Select "all sizes" upon arriving on the flickr page.