Bridging a new frontier in flack-reporter relations, the White House, wringing its hands about the
bailoutrescue plan vote in the Senate tonight, took issue with a reporter's Facebook status language yesterday. AFP correspondent Olivier Knox writes up his online exchange with WH deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel.
[A]t 10 am today, after doing research for a piece on the embattled economic rescue package, I posted: "Olivier just counted, and President Bush has pushed the bailout in 12 of the past 13 days."
Stanzel, one of the most technology-savvy spokespeople I have ever worked with, noticed my count, decided to double-check it, and left the following comment on my personal page objecting to the term "bailout," which the White House intensely dislikes: "Rescue plan, Mr. Knox. Your count is accurate. The only time the word 'bailout' appears, however, in any if those transcripts/statements is when a reporter used it in the Uribe avail."
No, Scott doesn't call me "Mr Knox" in real life. And his point was very light-hearted, something that can be easily missed in electronic communication. And he was right that the president had not used the world bailout. And it was his first time interacting with a reporter this way on Facebook, which means we may have made a little Washington media history.
At 10:30 am, tongue firmly planted in cheek, I updated my status to: "Olivier (UPDATES; CHANGES LANGUAGE) Just counted, and President Bush has pushed the economic rescue package in 12 of the past 13 days."
The all-caps message is something like what AFP puts in its invisible "trash line" that can be read by clients when we make changes to stories.
You'll note I didn't say "corrects language." And the B-word is still in my copy on the wire.
I'm sure Scott isn't giving up either. In fact, I'll be on the lookout for a blog comment signed "WHSPOXGUY."