Something of an inside-baseball media controversy was growing out of President Obama's news conference and the way he set up one particular question on Iran.
As you can see from the news conference transcript -- which can be found at latimes.com/ticket -- the president clearly had advance knowledge that Nico Pitney, national editor of Huffington Post, was present and had a question concerning Iran.
The White House press corps still considers itself the elite of the Washington media, even if the very Internet-savvy Obama White House develops its own independent means of spreading news without the filter of highly paid media reps.
So the president going out of his way to call on Pitney, jumping the established line, so to speak, caused all kinds of catty comments and worse from other D.C. media types, implying that the website got special treatment.
The answer, of course, is HuffPo did get special treatment. For one thing, it showed initiative in seeking input from Iranians.
But the treatment came only, Pitney explained in a C-SPAN video, because the president's vigilant online people discovered Pitney was soliciting questions for Obama with Twitter from within Iran during the election protests.
Pitney claims the White House did not know the question in advance but indicated its willingness to call on him. Unbeknownst to many during the news conference, the White House was providing simultaneous Arabic and Farsi translations of the president's remarks on its website.
So having an apparent question from within Iran was something of a presidential news conference producer's dream for that distant foreign audience where, perhaps by coincidence, it was only about 9 p.m. Tuesday's midday news conference, the president's fourth, was the first not in prime time, which would have normally been the middle of the night in the Mideast.
Managing news conference questions, of course, goes on all the time. Obama uses an advance list of reporters to call on. George W. Bush used to call on reporters seemingly randomly.
But during Ari Fleischer's days as press secretary, he would seat the Do Not Call On reporters in one section and alert the president in advance not to go there.
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Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. This is a selection from last week.