White House Defends Treatment of Huffington Post Reporter

The White House on Wednesday defended its treatment of a Huffington Post blogger the day before, insisting he was not a plant by the Obama 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, " White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, adding, "because in this country we enjoy the freedom of the press."

Gibbs insisted that no one in the White House preordained Huffington Post National Editor Nico Pitney's question despite a senior administration official escorting him  into the briefing room and President Obama calling on him second to the Associated Press reporter and by name.

"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 Obama administration pre-selected news organizations and questions in advance of every news 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 question other mainstream news organizations would have been able to ask 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."