Journalist jeers US President

Jun 18, 2012, 09:21 IST | Agencies

Barack Obama was in the middle of a speech on deportation of young immigrants when a reporter began heckling, leading to a confrontation

In a breach of etiquette so severe it managed to shock even the notoriously unfastidious journalistic profession, a reporter for the Daily Caller, a conservative website, repeatedly interrupted Rose Garden remarks by US President Barack Obama on Friday.

The president had not finished an announcement about a new immigration policy, which will end deportations of young undocumented immigrants, when reporter Neil Munro began shouting questions at him. “Why do you favor foreigners over Americans?” Munro asked.

“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,” a visibly irritated Obama snapped back. When the president reached the conclusion of his remarks, he returned his attention to Munro.

War of words: Neil Munro, a journalist from the Daily Caller, heckled US President Barack Obama during his speech, which irked the president and asked him to wait till he finished his remarks. Pics/AFP

“In answer to your question, sir – and the next time I’d prefer you’d let me finish my statement before you ask that question – this is the right thing to do for the American people,” Obama said directly to the writer. When Munro interrupted him again, Obama countered, “I didn’t ask for an argument. I’m answering your question.”

It is extremely rare for journalists to interrupt the president during official statements, but Daily Caller’s editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson later defended Munro, saying, “A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We’re proud of Neil Munro.”

Munro also defended himself, declaring, “I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our 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.”

Obama’s announcement regarding immigration is expected to win him support among Hispanic voters ahead of November’s general election against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

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