In the wake of Obama's State of the Union Address last week, there have been some rather childish games played by his media critics who turned SOTU reaction photos into failed attempts of gotcha. Even more distressing, the partisan attacks weren't plotted by online pests but by columnists for two of the largest newspapers in America.
First, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan did not like Obama's SOTU last week, although the former Reagan speechwriter claimed she really, really wanted to. (Whatever you say, Peggy.) But how could Noonan support her claim that Obama's "unserious" speech feel flat when poll after poll showed viewers pretty much loved Obama's national address?
Noonan's play was to announce members of Congress were bored by the speech:
Response in the chamber was so muted as to be almost Xanax-like. Did you see how bored and unengaged they looked?
And to prove that the chamber response was "muted," the WSJ published this photo to accompany Noonan's column:
Get it? While listening to an hour-long policy speech, some members of Congress kind of looked bored. That's the proof Noonan presented to back up her claim that Obama fell flat. That, despite the fact that overwhelming majorities of viewers told pollsters they liked the speech.
Meanwhile, matching Noonan's failed attempt at a game of photo gotcha was former Laura Bush flak, Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times, who was eager to suggest Obama's speech put at last one prominent audience member to sleep. To prove his point, Malcolm published this photo of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
The caption claimed Ginsberg was in "VERY DEEP THOUGHTZ." Ha-ha! Get it? She snoozed through Obama's SOTU, was the clear implication.
But did she? Malcolm has no idea. Instead, the photo he trotted out captured a split-second image from an hour-long speech. And during that hour-long speech is it possible Ginsburg cast her eyes downward? Of course it is. But the chronically un-serious Malcolm wanted to pretend Ginsburg fell asleep even though he couldn't find a photo to prove his juvenile point. So instead he published a photo of her looking down and pretended that proved his pointless point.
Honestly, if Noonan and Malcolm had anything serious to say about the SOTU they should have said it. Playing games with crowd reaction photos however, is probably the least serious way to critique a policy address.