White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied on Thursday a television news reporter's day-old claim that reporters often 'provide the questions to him in advance,' before his daily briefings, and that he sometimes provides answers on paper before taking the podium.
WIthin hours, the Phoenix reporter at the center of a quick-drying controversy admitted she got the whole thing wrong.
Phoenix news anchor Catherine Anaya reported Wednesday night on KPHO-TV5 that in an 'off the record' meeting, Carney had told a handful of local TV reporters that White House correspondents often tell him before daily briefings what they'll be asking.
'If only this were true,' Carney told MailOnline Thursday morning.
Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry took issue with Anaya's claims:
By mid-afternoon Anaya, fresh off a Washington-to-Phoenix flight, walked parts of her story back in an email to MailOnline. But she insisted that she herself was asked to submit a question in advance for Carney on Wednesday afternoon.
'As a local journalist I had no issue providing my proposed question in advance,' she told MailOnline, 'because I wanted to make sure it was an appropriate q[uestion] for a national briefing and I wanted to make sure it was appropriate for Mr. Carney.'
'[B]ut in discussing it with a staff member the night before, we decided I would save it for the president. I was attempting to not waste national time on a local question, but in my attempt at explaining that I unintentionally made it sound like that experience applied to everyone.'
'That is my mistake,' Anaya added, 'and I own up to it.'
Meanwhile, KPHO-TV issued a separate statement attributed to Anaya, but the CBS affiliate station quickly deleted it from its website.
Assignment Editor Scott Davis told MailOnline that it 'apparently ... was not the correct statement.'
Anaya's on-air commentary remains on the website, however.
'We started here shortly after 8 o'clock with a coffee with Press Secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing,' she said on the air, before making a stunning breach of journalistic protocol by reporting on an 'off the record' meeting and airing a photo of it.
This is the statement that KPHO placed on their website from Catherine Anaya and then quickly deleted:
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.'
It appears that someone needs to learn what "off the record" means? This is stuff even the most green Reporter should know, especially someone in the market the size of Phoenix.
Later the station issued this statement from Anaya:
'Last night during my live reports from the White House I attempted to describe the highlights of the day. I was speaking off the cuff and unscripted and in the process I made two major mistakes: I reported an off the record conversation and what I reported was not accurate.
'I took a conversation about the preparation for a press briefing and muddied it with my own experience of wanting to provide a question for the press briefing. I incorrectly applied the process to everyone. That was wrong and it was bad reporting. But it was not intentional and I would never purposely report inaccurate information.
'The White House never asked for my questions in advance and never instructed me what to ask. I chose to provide one of my questions in advance of the press briefing because I wanted to make sure it would have broad appeal. I did not attribute or report factually last night and for that I deeply apologize.
'I pride myself on truth and objectivity. I sincerely regret any harm I've caused and I hope that you will continue to place your trust in the hardworking journalists who make up CBS 5 News.'
We wonder if the station now feels that the trip to Washington was worth it?