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Obama Thrown Softballs in Hawaii Presser

President Obama Sunday was slow pitched a series of softballs from White House reporters, allowing him to swing for the bleachers with his version of the truth while easily evading sticky issues.

I like and respect most of my colleagues in the White House press corps. But they can do a lot better than this. The press conference was a case study in why so many people think the press is irretrievably in love with Obama.

Let’s start with CNN’s Dan Lothian. He wanted to know from Obama, essentially, whether Republican were just idiots, or if they were in fact big idiots.

Last night at the Republican debate, some of the hopefuls — they hope to get your job — they defended the practice of waterboarding, which is a practice that you banned in 2009.  Herman Cain said, “I don’t see that as torture.”  Michelle Bachmann said that it’s “very effective.”  So I’m wondering if you think that they’re uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?

Obama seemed delighted.

That’s a multiple-choice question, isn’t it?

Next batter up was Norah O’Donnell of CBS, who offered Obama an opportunity to swat away Mitt Romney’s accusation that Obama is soft on Iran.

If I could get you to respond to something that Mitt Romney said.  He said your biggest foreign policy failure is Iran.  He said that if you are reelected Iran will have a nuclear weapon.  Is Mitt Romney wrong?

Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg wanted to know if Republican “rhetoric or posturing” was interfering with Obama’s Asia policy.

In conversations that you’ve had over the past couple of days with Asia Pacific leaders, have any of them brought up the rhetoric that we’re seeing from Republican presidential candidates when it comes to China?  And does that kind of rhetoric or posturing jeopardize the progress that your administration has made with China and the Asia Pacific region as a whole?

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal wasted a rare opportunity to question the president with an inquiry about Hawaiian shirts.

Why did you get rid of the aloha shirts and the grass skirts?  (Laughter.)  Are you at all concerned that it not appear that you’re having a party over here while so many people are living with such a tough economy?  And I’m wondering if those perceptions were at all on your mind as you were making plans for this trip, which, by necessity, takes you to some pretty exotic and fun locations.

And Chuck Todd of NBC detracted from his serious question to Obama about the deficit super committee with a second query that amounted to a tepid request for Obama to “clarify” his inadvertently broadcast remark to French President Nicolas Sarkozy concerning Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

And then, can you clarify your end of the “hot mic” conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as it involved Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Obama refused to answer. The correct question, one that might have forced an response, would have have been a direct demand: “Do you think Netanyahu is unpleasant and wearying to deal with, as you told Sarkozy?”

To be fair, I’ve heard each of these reporters ask tough questions at the White House in the past. Not this time. And the inclusion of so many gentle requests in a single press conference is remarkable.

Most members of the Washington press corps wonder why they are criticized for going easy on Obama or even favoring him.

This is why.

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58 Responses to Obama Thrown Softballs in Hawaii Presser

  1. Keith – I always see Obama take a sheet of paper out of his pocket before the questions begin. Then he looks down at it on the lectern before calling on each reporter. It would thus seem obvious that the reporters to be called on are pre-selected. Query – does he also know what the questions will be?

    • As far as I know, he doesn’t. But I assume there have been some members of the press who have told the WH what they will ask in order to try to get him to call on them. I don’t think it happens frequently, but I’m sure it has happened.

  2. Are they hiding a determination to have the Democrat re-elected?

    I wonder when reporters became repeaters. What happened to the idea that the press works to identify hard truths for the sake of the public knowledge that makes a healthy democracy?

  3. C’mon.
    The American public doesn’t care if waterboarding terrorists is torture.
    Most Americans have no idea what the Prez is doing in Hawaii or even know what the heck the reference to Hawaiian shirts signify.
    The only people who listen to these “journalists” are their bosses.

    Every poll shows that FOXnews has more viewers than all of these liberal news organizations combined. So, what did the reporter from FOXnews ask the President? Oh, of course, he/she wasn’t invited to the love-fest.

  4. I can no longer watch an Obama presser.
    I can’t stand to hear Obama’s voice or listen to his lies anymore.
    I also want to shoot my tv every time one of the _Journalists_ enable him with the soft ball questions.
    I am sick of watching Chuck Todd lick Obama’s boots.
    I am so glad that I have escaped the beltway and now live in the real world.

  5. Keith, thank you for your candor, as always. My question: When your peers read an article like this, do they ever reply or comment? Without naming names, of course….. :>)

  6. This is why the general public has such contempt for the media. We don’t buy anything they say – literally – their newspapers and networks are failing. Just announced: Jeffrey Immelt, err, NBC hires Chelsea Clinton as reporter. What a surprise.

  7. My disdain for the press began in the late 1980’s with the treatment Dan Rather gave towards George H. W. Bush. Mr. Rather couldn’t hide his contempt for the Bush family. I never watched the CBS evening news again.

    Since then, things have only gotten worse. CNN became the Clinton News Network in the 1990’s. As I was living in Europe during the 90’s I could only get CNN International. Thank God, I was also able to get the BBC and the other European news perspectives on Clinton.

    Now we must endure MSNBC….Morons Spewing Nothing But Communism.

    All I can say is, Thank God for Fox News and the internet.
    Without them, I would be screwed.
    All of the other networks and written press are so biased and arrogant, they don’t even bother to pretend to be fair & balanced any more.
    They are Obama cheerleaders and Proud of It!

    • I quit MSNBC the nite Olbermann laid into Hillary, his crazy person eyes blazing, snapping off his words–and I thought, whoa, this woman isn’t even an elected official and this is some sportscaster? I never looked back. I see clips on Newsbusters sometimes.,

  8. Oh, yippie. The MSM is wiring up for the next “Beat H.Cain Until He Quits” presser with MsAllred and a hearsay accuser.
    Now they’re reduced to a He says She said He said. Pathetic.

    • Did you see that Bialek’s “fiance” said they haven’t been engaged since last Feb, when she and her son moved out of his house? He also doesn’t support her as reported. So now Allred is going to trot out Bialek’s ex-boyfriend, a pediatrician. This is becoming a circus IMHO.

      • I am not a lawyer–but is it hearsay when the person heard it themselves–or is that a term for when someone told someone else and THAT person told the press what the first person said.

  9. “Most members of the Washington press corps wonder why they are criticized for going easy on Obama or even favoring him.”

    Do they really wonder? Seriously? It does not speak too highly of their intelligence if their quandry is sincere. My general cynicism and lack of respect, now turns to pity. If they are unable to discern this for themselves, it might be possible that they are merely high-functioning morons. I think the more likely explanation is that don’t really care what their readers/listeners think, and are more interested in currying favor among the persons they report ON.

    • Chuck, as a high-functioning moron myself, I resent this!

      You make a good point – there is a Stockholm syndrome that can develop. Beyond ideological sympathy, it can be tough sometimes for reporters to separate themselves from the people they cover. It’s a very sick relationship, actually.

  10. Keith, your post begs the question: What are all the reporters who have committed career suicide by covering for Obama, going to do next ?
    All over the internet, the loss of respect for, and attention to, the media is obvious..
    If Obama loses, how many careers will go belly up?
    Especially when the tell all books come out..

  11. What just dawned on me about Lothian’s question was the phrase “your job” and the way he said it. It is Obama’s job until he decides he doesn’t want it anymore. And the subtext is, how can anyone be opposing him?

  12. Question:
    Is there a “list” of questions the “WH Press Corps” IS NOT allowed to ask the Obama White House…???

    It just seems like it… because We, the readers of WhiteHouseDossier can think of HUNDREDS! of better questions to ask the Obama White House, and that “Propaganda Sec.” Carney, than these so-called ‘elite, proffesional journalists’ that make up the WH “Press Corps”…

  13. With the exception of Keith I cannot think of anyone in the press who is not a boot licker with leg tingles.

    Thank you Keith, more than words can say.

  14. No news that Obama gets softball questions. I know Keith keeps trying to talk up his press buddies as not all that bad, but I am a long way from believing that. As for Mr. Obama — in the last few months he has called Americans “soft”, “lazy” and accused us of having lost our “ambition”. My preference would be that he stay overseas, take a long long vacation with Michelle in Bali (although she has a Nascar date right?), smile, wave, bow and scrape, and remain silent about the US and Americans. He should confine himself to hanging with his new BFF Russia, and doing whatever the Chinese want him to. We should all be spared Mr. Obama chastising us and trash talking this country while he is traveling on the taxpayer dime.

  15. The entire media from reporters to news channels to the WH staff members have been pre-programmed to ask innocuous questions, don’t expect straight answers, and don’t ask anything of importance of the POTUS. This fear factor is becoming more and more evident, as power and control is in the hands of one person only. Those who step out of the mold, or don’t follow the rules are soon fired or forced to resign. It happens to the press, it happens to the military commanders, and it happens to his cabinet and staff. His answers when given are evasive and uninformative. The arrogance is more than irritating, and I see little point in having a press conference at all.

  16. and further, I refuse to listen to any more of his speeches. He has said more than enough, loves to be on TV, and loves his teleprompter. I’d rather read a book, or go to an international website in a foreign language and hear what they have to say.

  17. Questions from “objective” reporters:

    Governor Romney, how do you think your dog felt when you strapped him to the roof of your station wagon for a cross-country trip?

    Governor Perry, is not David Letterman justified in making fun of your lack of intelligence?

    Mr. Cain, when did you stop beating your wife?

    Mr. Gingrich, how much jewelry does your wife really need?

    Congresswoman Bachmann, how can the voters have confidence that you will not take your crazy “Christian” values into the White House if, against all odds, you were elected President?

    Congressman Paul, what’s with your looney devotion to freedom? Surely you can’t be serious!

    Governor Huntsman, can you tell us something negative about your GOP opponents for the GOP nomination?

    President Obama, how does it feel to wake up each morning knowing you have the weight of the whole world on your shoulders and no one else can do your job better than you?

  18. I’m sure it’s understood that if you ask too many tough questions, the next time you’ll have a difficult time catching a ride to Hawaii. The softball questions thrown to Obama is unprecidented.

  19. The viewpoints you make in your article are so nicely stated. This is easy to understand from the beginning. This really is interesting to study. Thanks for clearing up some things I’ve been thinking about.