Back to West Virginia and the present day, Journal editor Kinsler said the paper would have loved to ask Manchin questions about the gun debate going on in Washington where he’s a key player. But that wasn’t going to happen that day. Staff said he wouldn’t answer them.

Because Manchin is “our senator,” as Kinsler told me, the paper took its opportunity to ask him about the sequester and infrastructure issues facing its readership in the eastern panhandle.

“Right in front of us is sequestration; right in front of us is infrastructure,” Kinsler says. “We needed to provide a service to our readers.”

Whether Manchin’s process-oriented and generally superficial answers to the Journal reporter’s not particularly hard-hitting questions did that, we suppose, is ultimately up to the paper’s readers. I’m glad The Journal disclosed the conditions put forth by Manchin’s staff, as it’s already provided even more context for the Manchin-and-guns narrative the senator’s trying to avoid.

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Corey Hutchins is CJR's correspondent for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. A former alt-weekly staffer, he has twice been named journalist of the year in the weekly division by the S.C. Press Association. Hutchins recently worked on the State Integrity Investigation at the Center for Public Integrity, and he has contributed to Slate, The Nation, and Medium, among others. Follow him on Twitter @coreyhutchins or email him at coreyhutchins@gmail.com.