Roundabout or Fair Play?

So, the White House made it's own interview of Elena Kagan.  And Kagan isn't doing interviews with the press.  Much, apparently, to the consternation of reporters.

I think the White House effort - throw up a few softballs, introduce the nominee as personable, and get it up on the web where the electorate can view her directly - is a smart move.  It avoids both the pesky questions of the press (especially for a nominee we know so little about from the text of opinions) and the traditional silence or at least reticence by the nominee between nomination and confirmation hearings (usually a lost opportunity, a time when lines of opposition grow and extend).  It's a new tack, and I think it will be effective - it will be the fodder for chatter over the next week and help set the public image of the nominee.

That said, I think turnabout is fair play.  Sometimes the Executive doing things well..."getting around the press"...should be of concern to us, even if it does so by "going directly to us" (Obama's Organizing for America comes to mind).  If the White House wants to take what CBS says is an unprecedented step in having a nominee go public in an "interview" - essentially presenting a helpful "direct examination" of the nominee, then I think the mainstream press should get a chance to "cross examine" and bring some skepticism to bear on behalf of the people.  I understand the Senate will serve a similar function inside the confirmation hearing.  I understand the press should be cross examining already on its pages, sites, and broadcasts.  And I know the blogosphere, etc. will critique the White House video.

But I guess I'm not surprised that the White House press corps is up in arms.  And even if it doesn't wrest any concession from the White House, I hope the development inspires some serious reporting.