Elena Kagan White House "Interview" Riles Reporters

The White House today posted on its website a video allowing Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to speak "in her own words" about her personal history and perspective.

In the interview, conducted by a White House staffer who produces videos for the administration, Kagan discusses her childhood, parents and professional career. At one point she jokes that people get confused between her job as solicitor general arguing cases before the Supreme Court and the surgeon general, who puts "the labels on the cigarette packages."

While the White House seems to believe the American people deserve to hear from Kagan, it has not made her available to reporters. That prompted some consternation at today's White House briefing.

"It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president's announcement," said a reporter. "You've now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?"

"I think it's -- I think it's on the website if you want to see it," responded Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Soon after, the reporter can be heard saying, an edge in her voice, "So a White House staffer interviewing her."

Gibbs says yes, and the reporter asks if Kagan would like to do another interview.

"She has -- she's not told me that, no," replied Gibbs, prompting the reporter to respond, "Tell her we're deeply frustrated."

The decision to post an interview with Kagan conducted by a government employee - not a journalist - is in line with the Obama administration's policy of regularly using new media tools to go around traditional media.

Doing so allows the administration to better control its message - and, in this case, avoid any uncomfortable questions for their Supreme Court nominee.

Still, it's worth noting that it seems to be unprecedented for the nominee to be heard from at all before the confirmation hearings, other than in the initial introduction and in brief photo ops with senators.

"This White House has taken its use of the web to a new level with this move," said CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer. "The ultimate unfiltered message. Kagan 'in her own words' without anyone else's words."

More on Elena Kagan's nomination:

Elena Kagan Takes Center Stage in 2010 Campaign Battles
Kagan to Meet With Key Senators Wednesday
Washington Unplugged: Kagan Riles Both Sides of the Aisle
Jeff Sessions: Kagan Won't Shift Court on Abortion
Chip Reid: Why Kagan? In A Word: "Leadership"
Photos: Elena Kagan
CBSNews.com Special Report: Elena Kagan

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