FOX News' Carl Cameron, who was recently promoted to chief White House correspondent despite a pattern of distortions and false statements, received a warm personal greeting from President Bush at his first White House press conference since his promotion. Bush's enthusiasm for Cameron immediately proved well-founded: In his first question to Bush, directly following the presidential welcome, Cameron corrected the wording of his question to match Bush's preference for the term "personal accounts" over "private accounts" regarding his plan to partially privatize Social Security.
Though the White House transcript of the January 26 press conference indicates that the White House press corps responded with "laughter" to Bush's welcoming Cameron, the video suggests that the response was closer to a groan. From the White House transcript:
THE PRESIDENT: Carl, welcome to the beat. Is everybody thrilled Carl is here?
Q Yes. (Laughter.)
Q Thanks, very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Please express a little more enthusiasm for him. (Laughter.)
Q [CAMERON]: A question on Social Security, if we may, sir. There has been, as you move forward to making your plan -- your ultimate proposal, growing concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill. We had [House Ways and Means Committee] Chairman Thomas [R-CA] last week with some concern about the process, and Senator Olympia Snowe [R-ME] on the other side suggesting that she's concerned about an absentee guaranteed benefit -- excuse me. Are you prepared today to say that those who opt into a potential private account -- personal account could, in fact, have a guaranteed benefit, as well? And what do you say to Republicans who are beginning to worry? [emphasis added]