Our pathetic press corps

With wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, what questions did our esteemed White House press corps choose to ask at today’s briefing with Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs? Hint: it had something to do with a guy named “Gates“, and not the one who heads up the Defense Department. Though in my great mercy I have deleted the answers — as well as a few questions about something called “health care” (don’t worry, I have no idea what that’s referring to either) — here’s a list of the hard-hitting questions the profoundly silly, self-styled “journalists” who attend these sorts of briefings asked about the most pressing news item of the day:

Q Polls, two of them. One on health care showing 46 percent disapproving of the president’s handling of health care. And then on the Gates issue, with 41 percent disapproving. Different poll, but 41 percent disapproving of how the president is handling — handled that incident.
Is this something that —

Q Forty one disapproving of how the president handled the Gates —

Q Is this something that you all are worried about? They’re coming at the same time. The Gates incident is pulling away from attention on health care. Even the president said that.

Q Actually he said it, I believe it was, yesterday, didn’t he, that people aren’t talking about health care as much?
Maybe I’m wrong.

Q Well, it’s pulling down his approval ratings, particularly among working class —

Q Among working class, right, his —

Q I’m just telling you what the polls said. So I’m wondering if you’re worried about it and what you guys can do about it.

Q Two questions, Robert, first one having to do with the Gates-Crowley meeting today. If we’re not going to be able to listen to the conversation and the three men are not going to talk to the press afterwards —

Q Well, but you’re not going to orchestrate it here at the White House is all I meant. But —

Q Okay. But the — I guess the question is, the president said he wanted —

Q — the president said he wants this to be a teachable moment.

Q How do you envision this being a teachable moment?

Q I guess I could just request, I’m sure on everybody’s behalf, that we find out and have as thorough a debrief from you as possible, so that we can make it as much of a teachable moment as possible.

Q And back to the Gates event today at the White House, why not allow the press to get closer to the table, to be able to at least, you know, have some sort of conversation or something with the parties involved?

Q Right, but that’s if they want to. But typically when you have events —

Q You know, I do want to follow up on that.
I mean, typically there are events that happen here at the White House. We’re invited in. We get a chance to either ask questions of the parties there. And if they choose to come out, we can get additional information from them.
In this case, we won’t have anything there and most likely won’t get anything when they come out.

Q But what about on the earlier part?
What about the president? I mean, why is the president in a cone of silence on this? You’re saying, those two can come out and talk, but he can’t? (Off mike) — teachable moment. Why — what’s the lesson that he wants to teach?

Q But why doesn’t he see this as an opportunity, if he wants to make it a teachable moment, to come out and talk and teach what he learned, what he wants the nation to learn?

Q Well, just to stay on it for one second, I mean, not that I’m arguing against any coverage, but you are availing yourself of the picture. So presumably you want a photo but not any further content from the president.

Q If you could, provide us some more logistics of the event this evening. Apparently you’ve decided you don’t want to splash beer on Malia and Sasha’s picnic table, which is probably a good thing.
Can you talk about —

Q The picture we’re going to get appears to be the three principals. But there are a number of people coming here, by my understanding. Are they all going to get together? What are you doing with the other guys?

Q You’ve got police-union officials coming as well.

Q Robert, going back to Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates, what do you hope — tomorrow morning when you wake up, what do you hope you will have accomplished?

Q Well, besides — what do you hope you will look back —

Q — what do you hope to — what’s your best-case scenario for looking back and saying, “We accomplished this last night. We were able to” —

Q Can it be a teachable moment if the American people do not hear something that several of them — several sides have asked for, including Professor Gates, at least? And that’s the word “apology” during the conversation today.

Q I had a question on the health care thing yesterday, but on the Gates thing, the president has said that he wants this to be a teachable moment, regardless of who —

Q So he said he wants this to be a teachable moment. Regardless of who first proposed it, he’s, through his surrogates, called these guys from the White House. But is he the teacher in this teachable moment?

Q Dialogue about what?

Q But how is that teachable for everybody? How is that teachable for the nation, if it’s just about an incident between two men?

Q Well, some people think it’s an incident about racial profiling. Some people think it’s an incident about disrespect for police. Some people think it’s — I mean, there are a million different things that it could be a teachable lesson about. And we’re not getting —

Q You say it’s a teachable moment. About what? Communication? I mean —

Q We wouldn’t have imagined they’d be here and we wouldn’t hear anything that was going to happen from the president. (Laughter.)

Q No I really — he’s not using this as an opportunity.

Q The only thing we’re hearing — is a teachable moment example is that we’re going to get a photograph out of it, or some film. I don’t understand. I mean —

Q Do you think the coverage has been good, that people have been covering this issue? You said there’s been a lot of coverage. Is that a good thing?

Q (Off mike) — how much more you could get if he came out and talked to us.

It’s days like these that I’m not so much saddened by the fact that much of the establishment media appears to be dying off as I am by the fact that it hasn’t already died.
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About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Journalism Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

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