Stewart Gets Ear Full at First Briefing
Source: Arkansas News Bureau This time when Alice Stewart read the news, someone talked back.
The former Little Rock television anchor and new press secretary for Gov. Mike Huckabee defended her calling of a news conference Friday as a way to make the governor's office accessible to the media while the governor was out of state.
Except Friday, Huckabee wasn't out of state and Stewart's inaugural briefing drew grumblings from several reporters.
Stewart said Huckabee returned to Arkansas on Thursday night from a trip to South Carolina, where he touted health initiatives as part of his role as chairman of the National Governor's Association.
"I thought you said you were going to be available to us when he was out of state," said longtime Associated Press correspondent James Jefferson.
"That's going to be the main focus of these press conferences, when's he out of town," Stewart responded.
"But he's not out of state today?" Jefferson asked.
"Right," said the former reporter and weekend anchor for KARK.
In another exchange, Jefferson asked why Stewart would hold the news conference when the information she provided could have been delivered by e-mail or fax.
"Why do we need these briefings?" he said. " ... You're standing there reading, essentially, a press release from the governor. Isn't that right?"
"Right," Stewart said.
Jim Harris, Huckabee's brother-in-law and his director of press operations, cut off questioning immediately after that.