nick robinson’s white house blogging lands bush in trouble

When the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson, went to the White House for a press conference with George Bush and Tony Blair, he did something fairly extraordinary – he composed it on his Blackberry and hit send as the President gave him a talking to:

“I’ve just been eyeballed long and hard by George Bush for suggesting he might be in denial re Iraq. It’s important, he told me, that you understand that I understand that it’s bad.”

Nick returned to analyse Bush’s response in a later post as did the Daily Kos, a popular liberal American blog, who spotted a strange discrepency when they looked at the official White House transcript:

“It now turns out that the question was so embarassing to Bush that the transcript on the White House site completely changes the sense. This is what it claims:

Q Mr. President, the Iraq Study Group described the situation in Iraq as grave and deteriorating. You said that the increase in attacks is unsettling. That won’t convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq, and question your sincerity about changing course.

“…The questioner was the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson. The question actually asked was

…That will convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq, and question your sincerity about changing course

“You might think that this question was carefully prepared beforehand but Nick Robinson writes a blog for BBC News and today’s entryreveals that he composed it on the hoof…”

All journalists know that taking good notes is vital for ensuring not just accurate recall of details, but can be useful if questions are ever asked about the validity of a report. Live blogging from a White House press conference takes that one step further by providing audiences with instant access to those notes and the opportunity for them to scrutinise that material before it’s even broadcast. It also makes it possible for the audience to see when material has been edited out or, as is the case here, where an official transcript of a White House press conference doesn’t match up with the reality.

An excellent example of how mainstream media can, by being open and transparent, help create opportunities for what Jarvis calls networked journalism.

[UPDATE: I forgot to mention in the original post that I was first tipped off about the Nick Robinson post via email from Giles. When I went to bookmark the post on I found a link recommendation from another user, Aaron, for the Daily Kos post. Just shows how the knowledge of the network is so much greater than that of the individual.]

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