UPDATE - Anaya has released a statement* addressing this issue:
"It seems much had been inferred about my observations following my White House visit yesterday. First, I did not take notes during our coffee with Jay Carney because it was off the record. But when I referenced the meeting in my live reports I did say that it was a great opportunity to talk about the challenges of his day and how he has to be so well-versed on many topics each day. In my live report I also wanted to share my impression of my experience in getting a question answered during the briefing. I was indeed asked to provide my question in advance. Because my question was largely of local interest, I chose to save it for my interview with the President instead. My mistake was to lump that experience with my coffee meeting reference, inadvertently giving Mr. Carney credit for that when in fact it did not come from him. I regret giving anyone the impression that it was from conversation I had with Mr. Carney. I do not attend those briefings regularly and cannot speak directly to the process for non-visiting journalists. None of my observations stemmed from my off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney."
asked to provide her potential press briefing question in advance. I've sent a follow-up asking if her questions for the president were also pre-screened. *See update three.
UPDATE III - In a new statement (round three), Anaya now says she was not asked to submit her questions in advance, but did so voluntarily. To recap, version one: Jay Carney told me White House reporters often submit their questions in advance. Version two: It was Carney who said that, and non-visiting reporters may not do so, but I was asked to provide my questions in advance. Version three: I was wrong about everything, and I was not asked to submit any questions in advance. Okay then.
"He also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it's something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask -- or the correspondents -- they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he is going to be answering."
If true, this would represent a shocking form of collusion and censorship, and would deal a deep blow to journalistic integrity. It was such an outrageous allegation, in fact, that I immediately expressed my doubts about it. Sure enough, Fox News' chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry is adamantly denying Anaya's account, as is Carney:
.@RalstonReports Briefings would be a lot easier if this were true! Rest assured, it is not.— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) March 20, 2014
I've reached out to the Arizona reporter via email and Twitter, seeking a clarification on her comments -- although I'm most interested in her answer to this question:
@CatherineAnaya Follow-up: Were *you* asked to submit questions in advance of your 4 minute interview w/ POTUS? Thank you.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 20, 2014
If I hear back from Ms. Anaya, I will update this post with her response. There are still enough self-respecting journalists in the White House press corps for the "questions in advance" scheme to be far-fetched. But that doesn't mean that the group doesn't fall down on the job with depressing regularity.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography