It takes guts to be a member of a press organization and blow the whistle on the outrageous conduct of one of its members. That’s what John Gizzi of Human Events has done. In an interview with Joe Borda of the Free Congress Foundation, he has labeled David Gregory of NBC News a classless guy with bad manners.
Gizzi, who covers the White House for the national conservative weekly, has observed the behavior of the White House press corps up close and personal. They can be arrogant and cold. He recalls running into Norah O’Donnell at one event and trying to say hello to her. She recognized him but only said “Hey!” Well, at least she acknowledged his presence.
There are only about 200 members of the White House press corps, and Gizzi says it is an honor to belong to this club. But he is troubled by the behavior of some of its members.
Gregory, the NBC News White House reporter, made national headlines by calling White House spokesman Scott McClellan a “jerk” during a White House press event. This was during the time when the media were on a feeding frenzy into the Dick Cheney hunting accident.
By way of background to Gizzi’s comments, you may remember that the Drudge Report revealed that White House correspondent John Roberts, formerly of CBS News and now with CNN, had made a disparaging sexual remark about the President’s Supreme Court nominations of Harriet Miers and Samuel Alito during a press event with McClellan. Roberts later apologized, saying, “I’m sorry for my unfortunate choice of words this morning.”
Gizzi commented, “That’s a little different approach from David Gregory. It’s called class.”
The exchange between McClellan and Gregory, which took place during a February 14 morning briefing, when the cameras were not on, went like this:
McClellan: “David, hold on, the cameras aren’t on right now. You can do this later.”
Gregory: “Don’t accuse me of trying to pose for the cameras. Don’t be a jerk to me personally when I’m asking you a serious question.”
McClellan: “You don’t have to yell.”
Gregory: “I will yell. If you want to use the?that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don’t appreciate, then I will raise my voice because that’s wrong.”
McClellan: “Calm down, Dave, calm down.”
Gregory: “I’ll calm down when I feel like calming down. You answer the question.”
During the afternoon briefing, when the cameras were on, Gizzi said that Gregory “stayed on message. At one point he threw his hands up at McClellan and said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He wasn’t at the White House briefings for the rest of the week.”
Five days later, on Meet the Press on February 19, Gregory finally apologized. “I think I made a mistake,” he said. “I think it was inappropriate for me to lose my cool with the press secretary representing the President. I don’t think it was professional of me. I was frustrated, I said what I said, but I think that you should never speak that way, as my wife reminded me, number one. And number two, I think it created a diversion from some of the serious questions in the story, so I regret that. I was wrong, and I apologize.”
A CBS News poll dated February 27 found that 66 percent of the people surveyed thought the media had spent “too much time” on the hunting accident.
Take that, Mr. Gregory. Wise up and grow up.