Planted in the briefing room

The Obama White House is pushing back on the White House press corps, insisting the blogger at the Presidential news conference on Tuesday was not a plant by the administration.

"That was a question from an Iranian, in Iran, using the same type of manner and method to get that information as I guess many of you and virtually every one of your outlets has done, " Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. He went on to add, "because in this country we enjoy the freedom of the press."

Gibbs insists the escort of Nico Pitney, of the website Huffington Post, into the briefing room by a senior administration official and the second question at the news conference was not something pre-ordained by anyone in the administration. "There was no guarantee that a question -- the questioner would be picked, " Gibbs said.

While the White House has denied in the past that they favor certain news organizations, many in Wednesday's briefing said the perception was that the White House pre-selected news organizations and questions in advance of every press conference, and that this just added to that idea. In order to break the press corps of that "misconception", Gibbs proceeded to ask almost a dozen reporters in the room if they had ever given a question into the White House in advance. The answer was a series of no's, however, that did not stop many from questioning the White House's integrity in the overall affair.

For its part the White House says the question from Pitney was unlike any questions other mainstream news organizations would be able to have asked, because of his close connections to the protests in Iran and the underground blogging network that has been used to send out information within the country.

"In Iran, as many of you know, your colleagues have been dismissed, they've been kicked out," Gibbs said in defense of the question. "Some of them have been rounded up. There aren't journalists that can speak for the Iranian people."
- per Eve Zibel