TheDC’s top 2012 stories, part 1: The ‘Obama administration off the rails’ edition

David Martosko Executive Editor
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The Daily Caller published more than 19,300 pieces of content in 2012, including everything from breaking news to those bikini slideshows that our readers have a habit of clicking on when no one is watching. (We’re not judging.)

Ten of those stories stood out because they were either immensely popular, deeply controversial, or completely unexpected. So a little retrospective is in order.

Every day this week we’ll invite you to relive two of our most compelling moments from 2012. These stories might have made you angry or gleeful, or maybe they led you to poke your spouse in the ribs and say, “See, I told you so!”

But however you reacted, they met our number-one test for publication: They were interesting.

Today we revisit two such stories that the Obama White House probably wishes we would forget.

NEIL MUNRO: Obama ignores questions about controversial de facto amnesty decision

Daily Caller White House Correspondent Neil Munro found himself in his peers’ and colleagues’ crosshairs on June 15 after a Rose Garden “press conference” — the air quotes are intentional — during which President Barack Obama declined to take any questions from the press.

Munro, in what seemed to be an odd departure from the norm since early 2009, asked a question anyway.

He did his job. And he was skewered for it, with some media outlets describing him as a heckler, and others accusing him of being a blogger.

Neither was true, but it certainly beats being a stenographer — a point this editor made repeatedly to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney when he called to vent his outrage in some rather colorful language.

It’s worth noting that beginning five days later, the president went seven weeks without taking a single question from a reporter.

In his reliably unflappable style, Munro reported on the Rose Garden experience objectively and without hyperbole:

President Barack Obama declined to take any questions from reporters about his controversial and significant decision to offer a de facto amnesty to at least 800,000 foreigners aged 15 to 30.

The president turned and walked away from reporters at the end of an early afternoon address in the White House’s Rose Garden, even though two reporters called out questions about his decision.

The announcement of the decision comes at a time of record unemployment among low-skilled workers, Hispanics and African-Americans. …

Sometimes, the president does answer shouted questions. At the end of a March 23 Rose garden event, for example, he answered a shouted question about Trayvon Martin, a Florida youth killed in February.

On Friday The Daily Caller asked a question as his speech appeared to be ending.

The president rebuked TheDC, but then he declined to answer any other questions when he finished his carefully crafted statement.

He declined to answer TheDC’s shouted question about the impact of his new policy on American workers. He also failed to answer another reporter’s question.

In previous administrations, some reporters used the tactic very effectively. ABC’s Sam Donaldson, for example, was famous for his shouted questions to President George H.W. Bush.

Munro would later speak on camera about the experience in an exclusive Daily Caller video. And Tucker Carlson, TheDC’s editor-in-chief, issued a statement that spoke for the entire newsroom.

“I don’t remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan,” Carlson said. “And she shouldn’t have. A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We’re proud of Neil Munro.”

Five months later, to the day, a Bloomberg News reporter shouted out a question to President Obama as another event was ending. Instead of being panned by other media outlets, he earned praise from colleagues at The New York Times and elsewhere. Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler was the only observer to write about the marked contrast.

But the joke is on the establishment media: As a photo of Munro daring to question the president quickly became a meme-worthy icon, TheDC ran with it — inserting him into slideshows with the Miami Heat players celebrating their NBA championship, in pivotal moments of pop-culture history through the last five decades, and even in photos caught between two sexy women — “just because he’s Neil Munro.”

Take that, dead-tree newspapers.

White House ‘secede’ petitions reach 675,000 signatures, 50-state participation

A funny thing happened on the way back to the White House: Despite a popular-vote majority and an Electoral College victory that no one was calling a “squeaker” on Nov. 7, President Obama couldn’t manage to please everyone.

Just days after his re-election, the Obama administration was smacked with an unusual populist reaction as Americans in all 50 states petitioned his White House for permission to secede from the union:

Less than a week after a New Orleans suburbanite petitioned the White House to allow Louisiana to secede from the United States, petitions from seven states have collected enough signatures to trigger a promised review from the Obama administration.

By 6:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states, according to a Daily Caller analysis of requests lodged with the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.

A petition from Vermont, where talk of secession is a regular feature of political life, was the final entry.

Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.

Were they Republican whiners? Constitutional hard-liners? Fans of the Declaration’s signers? We never found out, since most of the petitions failed to reach their goal of 25,000 signatures. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to review online petitions and provide a response.

But petitions from citizens in eight states — Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and South Carolina — did reach that magic number. (So did a petition calling on the White House to “Deport everyone that signed a petition to withdraw their state from the United States of America.)

Texas has led the way, with more than 121,000 petition signatures, and the 50 states’ petitions racked up more than 930,000 supporters in all before the 30-day deadlines started expiring.

But so far the White House hasn’t issued any reactions. It’s likely that the administration has more pressing things to do, like figuring out how it’s going to respond to the much larger number of Americans — more than 242,000 — who have signed a petition to “Legally recognize [the] Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

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