President Barack Obama. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
As President Obama explained his major immigration policy switch this afternoon with a Rose Garden statement, he got into an unexpected verbal tussle with a reporter.
Obama seemed bewildered-and then downright angry-after Neil Munro, a reporter for the conservative web site Daily Caller interrupted his remarks by shouting a question about what the president's decision to halt deportations of some illegal immigrants could mean for American workers.
"Excuse me, sir," Obama told Munro after the reporter shouted a question in the middle of his speech. "It's not time for questions, sir."
"No, you have to take questions," Munro responded, according to a White House transcript of the exchange.
Obama shot back, "Not while I'm speaking."
Obama went on to complete his speech but not before jousting again with Munro.
As he neared the end of his remarks, Obama chastised Munro, telling him next he'd prefer he let him finish his statement before asking questions.
Munro again shouted questions at Obama.
"I didn't ask for an argument," Obama said. "I'm answering your question."
In a statement on the Daily Caller web site, Munro defended himself.
"I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our president. I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States. I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions."
Munro's bosses at the Daily Caller also defended Munro.
Tucker Carlson, Editor-in-Chief: "I don't remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan. And she shouldn't have. A reporter's job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don't want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We're proud of Neil Munro."
Neil Patel, Publisher: "The President today announced a very controversial policy and does not want to answer tough questions about it. Neil Munro is a veteran Washington reporter who today tried his best to time his question to be first as the President was wrapping up his remarks. He in no way meant to heckle the President of the United States."