Was Neil Munro heckling President Barack Obama during a major speech on the country's immigration policy Friday, or was the reporter for the Daily Caller website just doing his job?
Munro's interruption of Obama, seen in the video below, set off a firestorm of controversy on Twitter and across the Internet in the wake of Obama's speech in the White House Rose Garden.
The president was speaking about a new immigration policy that could keep 800,000 immigrants from being deported. The temporary policy affects immigrants between the ages of 16 and 30. They would not be deported provided they are enrolled in school, received a high-school diploma, or were honorably discharged from the military.
It is the right thing to do, Obama said before being interrupted.
Excuse me, sir, the president chided, pointing a finger at Munro. It's not time for questions, sir. Not while I'm speaking.
Munro said in a statement that he believed Obama was wrapping up his speech and that his motive was not to heckle the president.
I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our president. I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the president of the United States, Neil Munro said. I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions.
CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar said she did not believe Munro's explanation is valid.
I was two people over from Neil Munro, Keilar tweeted. No one thought the president was wrapping up. I give that statement a great big Cow Pie Award.
Carlson defended his reporter after ABC anchor Diane Sawyer characterized Munro as a heckler. Carlson contended Munro was just doing his job.
I don't remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President [Ronald] Reagan. And she shouldn't have. A reporter's job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don't want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We're proud of Neil Munro, Carlson said in a statement.
Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel said it was not Munro's intention to heckle Obama.
The president today announced a very controversial policy and does not want to answer tough questions about it, Patel said. Neil Munro is a veteran Washington reporter who today tried his best to time his question to be first as the president was wrapping up his remarks. He in no way meant to heckle the president of the United States.
Some political observers -- Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling among them -- were not shocked at Munro's behavior.
When I heard someone interrupted the president, I immediately wondered if it was Neil Munro. Most unprofessional reporter I've ever talked to, said Jensen, who tweets on behalf of PPP.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said Munro's behavior was out of line and said the Daily Caller reporter is undeserving of White House access unless he makes an effort to be more professional.
Neil Munro, Daily Caller, should be barred from future press access to WH unless he apologies and promises never to interrupt again, the congressman tweeted.