Did President Bush Shun Female Reporters at Press Conference?

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By: E&P Staff

At his almost-daily press briefing at the White House today, Press Secretary Scott McClellan fielded the usual policy questions about Hamas, Venezuela, Syria, and even one about W. Mark Felt.

But there was also something on the minds of a couple of the female correspondents, who apparently were still smarting from what they perceived as possible presidential gender bias, as exhibited at George W. Bush’s press conference on Tuesday.

Here is the back-and-forth from the official transcript:


Q Scott, at the press conference yesterday, approximately 25 percent of the journalists were women, and the President took only one question from a woman reporter. Can you explain this pattern?

McCLELLAN: That might be a reflection on the media. That’s not — I don’t think that’s a reflection on who the President calls on.

Q Their hands were up, the female hands —

McCLELLAN: You pointed out that there is a smaller percentage of women at the event. I think that’s a question you may want to address to the media, if it’s a question of diversity in the media.

Q If 25 percent of the journalists are women, I would think more than 2 percent of questions — or, in fact, it was one question — would perhaps be directed to the women.

McCLELLAN: The President looks forward to taking questions from a wide variety of people, and I don’t think that’s a reflection on the President. I think that’s a reflection on maybe the media and the diversity within the media. So I think that’s a question you ought to direct to the media, not us.

Q Can you assure us that he will take note next time to count —

McCLELLAN: He was pleased to call on women journalists yesterday —

Q He called on one. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said, there are a number of major media organizations that were represented there. The President believes it’s important to get to those major media outlets and start the news conference that way. And if it’s a question of diversity within those organizations, I think it’s a question to direct to those organizations, not us.

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