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CBS' Chip Reid, Gibbs Spar Over "Town Hall"

CBS News White House Correspondent Chip Reid – along with columnist Helen Thomas – got into a contentious back-and-forth with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at Gibbs' daily briefing yesterday.

The topic? The questions being asked at yesterday's health care "online town hall," which were submitted by the public but selected by the White House. Reid also brought up the fact that the audience was selected by the White House and the college where the event was held.

"It just feels very tightly controlled," Reid said. "It feels -- I mean, the concept of a town hall I think is to have a open public forum, and this sounds like a very tightly controlled audience and a list of questions. Why do it that way? Why not open it up to the public?"

"How about we do this -- how about you can ask me that question tomorrow based on what questions were asked rather than preselecting your question based on something that may or may not come through," Gibbs replied.

"This is a town hall," Reid said later. "This is an open forum for the public to ask questions, but it's not really open."

Responded Gibbs: "Based on what?"

"Based on the information that your staff gave us on how the audience and the questions are being selected," Reid responded.

"The questions are being selected by people that e-mail on Facebook and Twitter," Gibbs said.

Replied Reid: "Well, they're not deciding what questions actually get in."

Watch the entire exchange, which includes Thomas' complaint that "I'm amazed at you people who call for openness and transparency," above.

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