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Knoller Knows The White House

CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller has been checking out the White House Booth mailbox. He's found viewers have a lot of questions on a wide variety of topics.

I would like to know why there wasn't more outrage from the White House Press Corps regarding the whole "Jeff Gannon" incident. Has any previous administration so blatantly brought in someone with no credentials to toss softball questions at the press secretary? Why didn't the legitimate press corps show some backbone and stage a walkout?
Matthew Anton, New York City

You should know that the White House Press Corps has no say in which reporters are accredited or given access by the White House Press Office. It would be a slippery slope if we did. There are a number of reporters whose questions I find biased, but that's part of freedom of the press. As for staging a walkout: no one would be happier to see reporters head out the door than White House officials. We're not at the White House to try to score political points or protest. Our job is to report on White House actions and policies so you - the public - can know what's going on in your name and at your expense.



Why didn't Bush nominate a woman for the Supreme Court? We are once again being ignored and under represented by the government. Bush even ignored his own wife, in this regard, who is unquestionably by far the smarter and more fair minded of the two!
Jackie Hughes, Chesapeake, VA

White House officials say President Bush simply regarded Judge John Roberts as the best qualified of the prospective nominees he considered. We know at least one woman was among the five finalists with whom Mr. Bush conducted personal interviews. But top aides say the President made his choice based on the merits, not gender.



My question is why do so many reporters ask someone who has just been, or is presently going through a very traumatic event, "How do you feel?" Isn't it obvious how they feel when they see their home go up in flames, or see someone killed, or something else equally disturbing?
Susan Dwyer

Over 30 years in journalism, I've covered my share of disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, building collapses and floods. And believing as you do, I've tried to steer clear of the "how do you feel" question. You're right. It's dumb - and perhaps even insulting. But a reporter's job is to convey the depth of loss suffered by disaster victims. And "how do you feel" is the quickest way to get someone to reflect on what happened. There are other ways to get the same response. But I have found that sometimes dumb questions get the very best answers.



The question I have is just for general interest. Why is it that every scandal or wanna-be scandal in the world today has to have a name that ends in "gate"? I lived through the Watergate era, which was named for the office building. But what in the world do subsequent scandals have to do with any kind of gate? Can't people be a little more original?

Just curious.
Rev. Dennis Eshelman

You're right, Reverend. It's moronic shorthand by reporters. It's an effort by some of my colleagues - and especially by headline writers - to be cute and suggest that lesser wrongdoing can be compared to Watergate. That was the biggest political scandal of my lifetime and led to the resignation of a President. Should we try to be more original, you bet. And please keep telling us when we fall short of that goal.



I wish to know why no impeachment proceedings have been initiated against George W. Bush? If Clinton can be impeached for lying, why can't Bush?
Linda DeLeo

You didn't say what you think President Bush lied about. I presume you think he lied to the nation about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. To this day, Mr. Bush insists he based that assertion on the best intelligence available to him and to America's allies. He also says that if he knew then what he knows now, that Iraq had no WMDs, he still would have launched an invasion of Iraq.



I would like to know why it seems like the Rove-Plame issue seems to keep getting bumped to the rear of the lunch line, so to speak.
Timothy Rinner

I suspect senior officials at the White House would disagree with you, especially spokesman Scott McClellan. But the White House has adopted a stonewall strategy, deciding not to respond to questions about the matter while the investigation of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is still underway. It is not for lack of effort by reporters that the issue is a bit lower on the national radar screen. But remember this: there's at least one journalist who knows for certain who first leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. And that person is columnist Robert Novak. His column of July 2003 broke the story. But Novak refuses to reveal his source - at least not to his readers.

Thanks for your questions. They're provocative and challenging. Keep 'em coming.

Mark Knoller
CBS News White House Correspondent



CBS News White House Correspondents John Roberts, Bill Plante, Mark Knoller and Peter Maer are standing by to take viewer questions. E-mail them at Ask The White House Booth.