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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Evasiveness in the White House Press Room

John Templon reports at Buzzfeed:
Since 1993, 12 brave souls have accepted the challenge of briefing the White House press corps on a daily basis. As the chief communicators of White House goings-on, press secretaries (official and de facto) must walk a fine line between answering important questions and…not answering them at all. 
BuzzFeed analyzed more than 5,000 press briefings since the beginning of the Clinton administration in 1993, looking for “weasel phrases” such as “I can’t comment on,” “I’m not aware [of/that/etc.],” and “I don’t know.” (For more details, see the methodology at the bottom of this post. Counting weasel phrases is, of course, an imperfect measure of evasiveness. It does not, for example, capture idiosyncratic methods of misdirection.) Here’s what we found: