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Neil Munro, Of Daily Caller, Interrupts President During Rose Garden Address

Neil Munro of the Daily Caller (center) interrupts U.S. President Barack Obama with questions as he delivered remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House.
Alex Wong
Getty Images
Neil Munro of the Daily Caller (center) interrupts U.S. President Barack Obama with questions as he delivered remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House.

President Obama grew very angry when Neil Munro of the website Daily Caller shouted a question in the middle of his address at the Rose Garden.

The first time he was interrupted, Obama said, "Excuse me sir. It's not time for questions, sir. Not while I'm speaking."

The president was issuing a statement about his administration's decision to delay the deportation of some young immigrants. Toward the end of his speech, Obama addressed Munro directly.

Here's a bit of audio from that moment:

"I didn't ask for an argument, I'm answering your question. It is the right thing to do for the American people," he said. "And here is why. Here is the reason, because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions."

As you'll hear at the end of that piece of audio, what Munro was shouting was "What about American workers who are unemployed, while you import foreigners?"

The reaction on Twitter has been swift, mostly calling his interruption rude. Tony Fratto, who served as a spokesman for the George W. Bush administration tweeted:

"Reporters don't interrupt presidential statements. Period.@NeilMunroDC should be banned from WH. #fb"

Brian Stetler of The New York Times spoke to Tucker Carlson, who runs the conservative Daily Caller.

"Carlson hadn't seen the video, but he defended Munro. 'As a general matter, reporters are there to ask questions,'" Stelter tweeted.

The Huffington Post also talked to Carlson. They report:

"When told that ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer referred to Munro as a 'heckler,' Carlson said he 'doesn't remember anyone saying that Sam Donaldson,' the aggressive former ABC News White House correspondent. Carlson suggested Sawyer would probably describe Donaldson as 'being a tough reporter.'

"'Politicians don't get to make a statement and then retreat to a fortified castle,' Carlson said, adding that 'our job is to find out what's going on with federal government on our time-table.'

Update at 6:18 p.m. ET. Donaldson Wouldn't Do That:

Here's what Sam Donaldson told The Washington Post:

"'I never interrupted any president while he was making a formal presentation of any sort. You don't do that, do you?' said Donaldson, who titled his 1987 memoir Hold On, Mr. President!"

Update at 5:48 p.m. ET. Official Transcript:

The White House has released the official transcript of Obama's address. What's obvious from reading it is that Munro interrupted the president mid-sentence. Here's that exchange; Munro's part was inaudible in the audio:

It is --

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: — the right thing to do.

Q — foreigners over American workers.

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, sir. It's not time for questions, sir.

Q No, you have to take questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Not while I'm speaking.

And here's the final exchange, which is what's in the audio above:

And the answer to your question, sir — and the next time I'd prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question — is this is the right thing to do for the American people --

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't ask for an argument. I'm answering your question.

Q I'd like to --

THE PRESIDENT: It is the right thing to do —

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: — for the American people. And here's why --

Q — unemployment --

THE PRESIDENT: Here's the reason: because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions, and are already making contributions to our society.

Update at 3:31 p.m. ET. Thought President Was Done Talking:

In a statement posted on the Daily Caller's website, Munro said he thought the president was done speaking. He said:

"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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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