Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ring in the New

As everyone summarizes things from 2011 this column on the media's handling of president Obama has to be in the top five.  Here's a snippet:
Indeed, the GOP hopefuls have been thoroughly queried on a laundry list of issues ranging from immigration problems to the faltering economy, Iran’s nuclear program to trade deficits with China, the intricacies of climate change to strategies to combat terrorism, exploding government regulations to skyrocketing public debt, plus some uncomfortable questions about their pasts and their personal lives.
Yet, during all that time, the man they hope to defeat next November has rarely been asked by news reporters about many of these issues. Since August, President Obama has held only one formal White House news conference. That came on Oct. 6, nearly three months ago. It lasted 74 minutes, shorter than any single Republican debate, and the president was asked 17 questions, most of them softballs on the economy and his latest legislative proposals to create jobs.
The piece was not written by some right wing blogger or party hack, but by Richard Benedetto, a former USA Today White House press corpse member and current professor of journalism teaching at both Georgetown and American U. He's not the only one to point it out, but is perhaps the only one to point it out who used to sit in the White House press room.  It's the reason I've called them the 'baby bird' media--instead of going after prey like normal journalists they wait for little droplings of 'food' to be sprinkled out by the mother bird, afraid to jump out of the nest (probably fearing the loss of access or a book deal). So the American public is left with nothing more than soft-ball questions and summaries of White House talking points, such as this supposed piece of journalism:
Obama continued to describe the year to come as a “make-or-break” moment for the middle class, explaining “the actions we take in the months ahead will help determine what kind of country we want to be, and what kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in.”
Granted, she was reporting on his weekly taped message, but is there any difference between that and a formal press conference?  Neither allow real follow-ups.   And granted there's an ideological perspective in play, but isn't this what a real press conference is supposed to look like....

(here's part 2, part 3, and part 4, and notice how the problems are similar then to now, including the Iranians and the Persian Gulf) 

Formal interviews aren't much better.  Recently Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes did one and occasionally asked some tough questions and make some tough points, such as... Did you overpromise? Did you underestimate how difficult this was gonna be?  To which Obama was allowed to respond with..."I didn't overpromise. And I didn't underestimate how tough this was gonna be. I always believed that this was a long-term project; this wasn't a short-term project" (followed by a typical filibuster).  Kroft let all of it go despite Obama on tape after his election saying that if he didn't get things turned around by 3 years he might be a one-termer.  Guess only bloggers and Sean Hannity have access to that clip.

As you can see, there's no breaking news or cogent insight in this rant, just a summary of frustration. The new year is approaching, so allow me to agree with Obama in at least one area-- here's hoping 2012 is a great year.  But I hope it's great for ALL Americans, not just those of one 'class' or another.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

There isn't much real 'interviewing' that goes on any more. All the do's and don'ts are set forth before the interview, the questions are answered with non-answers. It would be interesting to see a real, no questions barred, interview.

I hope you have a great New Year. We would have spent ours at home like you, but hubby won't miss an opportunity to play the bass and sing with his group of friends. It's a good hobby.

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