Softballing is when an accomplice poses easy softball questions to an official being interviewed.
Suzanne Goldenberg revealed the case of a fake reporter at White House press briefings who had a propensity to ask softball questions or questions that the White House desired to address.
- The White House faced fresh accusations of a clandestine propaganda campaign yesterday after it emerged that it granted regular access to a right-wing blogger with a habit of asking President Bush easy questions.
Jeff Gannon, who represented a right-wing site owned by a Texas-based Republican activist, had been a regular at White House briefings since 2003 but aroused reporters' suspicions after posing ideologically loaded questions.
The fake White House correspondent quit his job at the Talon News site on Wednesday after liberal bloggers found he had been operating under a pseudonym, and that he was linked to several gay pornographic web domain addresses under his real idenity, James Guckert.
And his use to the White House becomes clear:
- "You could see there was a pattern in which the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, would be getting a more aggressive and less friendly question, and then would seem to call on Jeff Gannon to change the subject. And when he did he got a softball question in return," Mr Brock said.
The fake reporter's downfall came last week when he attracted suspicion with a particularly loaded question to the president on how he would enlist Democratic support for his social security reforms.
After falsely attributing quotes to Democratic leaders, Gannon asked: "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
—Suzanne Goldenberg, "Fake reporter unmasked at White House", February 11, 2005.