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Lester Kinsolving: White House press corps pit bull

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 5, 2010 10:03 AM

Veteran journalist Les Kinsolving may not have a nightly cable TV talk show or a New York Times op-ed column, but he’s a media legend and workhorse who has dogged both Republican and Democrat administrations for decades. I’ve noted many of his grillings over the years. I don’t agree with everything he says or writes, but he says and writes everything with conviction, passion, purpose — and never an ounce of the oily obsequiousness that infuses the Washington press. He did not mince words with the Bush White House. And he is not mincing words with Team Obama.

On Monday, Kinsolving tore into Robert Gibbs over his staged briefings and the president’s aversion to press conferences (h/t Tommy Christopher at Mediaite/related interview with Kinsolving here). Kinsolving also hit Gibbs with a question at the end of the exchange about my column on Mexico’s immigration policies. Thank you, Mr. Kinsolving, for being our voice against Washington’s culture of corruption.

Watch:

Transcript excerpt. Note that the MSM’ers actually applauded Kinsolving’s criticism of the Team Obama press operations. Times are a’ changin’:

Q Only two questions, Robert.

MR. GIBBS: It’s early in the week, Lester, but I’m ready.

Q Thank you very much. In view of President Franklin Roosevelt’s 998 press conferences, why has President Obama held not a single White House press conference since last July?

MR. GIBBS: Lester, what would you — let me ask you this. Can I ask you just — I just have one question.

Q You can ask me as many as you wish.

MR. GIBBS: Excellent. I’m just going to use one. When the President took eight questions from members of the White House press corps at the Nuclear Security Summit at the Washington Convention Center, what would you call that?

Q That was not a press conference.

MR. GIBBS: What would you call it?

Q It was a select few.

MR. GIBBS: A select few what?

Q A select few reporters. It was not a White House press conference. That was my question.

MR. GIBBS: Well, can I ask another question? I do want to — I’m going to –

Q Of course you can.

MR. GIBBS: I’m going to — can I take Chip’s thing and just ask one more? What differently do you think the President would have done at the Nuclear Security Summit in taking the eight questions from members of the White House press corps that might have denoted — might have tripped your definition of a press conference?

Q It would be a wonderful thing if he had allowed all reporters — just it would be wonderful if you would allow these front-rowers two questions and then go all the way back to the back and then come back and let them start again. That would be fair. (Laughter and applause.) Thank you very much.

…Q Let’s move on. Let’s move on.

Q — he’d get through a lot. But I want to ask my second question, if I may.

MR. GIBBS: Okay, will the transcript please — just you can just put this in parentheses –

Q — more questions –

MR. GIBBS: Hold on, hold on, hold on, Goyal. I’m — this is my press conference.

Can you just put in parentheses that it appeared as Lester didn’t answer my second question, but we had like 90, 55, 38 and eight to the — now, I will — just for a point of personal privilege, it’s unclear as if Lester’s definition of the President ever having participated in a White House news conference would have been the case because I don’t believe that — I don’t believe the President has ever taken 38 questions at one event.

I’m sorry, Lester. Your second?

Q It’s the last one. What is the President’s reaction to how Mexico treats illegal aliens from Central America as detailed by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin?

MR. GIBBS: I’m not aware that the President –

Q I mean they’re very tough in enforcing that border.

MR. GIBBS: I will take a look at that.

And I won’t hold my breath…

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