• The press wasn't "bored" at early Bush press conferences

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Todd Gitlin at TPMCafe offers up the context by looking back at a February, 2001 presser and how scribes covered it. Notes Gitlin:

    But at least when George W. Bush stood tall in the White House we didn't have any of that persnickety, fussy, lugubrious, pompous, professor stuff, and the nation's watchdogs fidgety students weren't bored out of their gourds "waiting for the ring of the bell."

  • Andrew Malcolm is bored, too

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Los Angeles Times blogger/former Laura Bush press secretary wasn't impressed by President Obama last night. Surprise, surprise.


    Tuesday morning The Ticket examined the White House's current political strategy and asked the question who would show up at Barack Obama's second nationally-televised news conference that evening: the president or the senator?

    The answer: Neither.

    Professor Barack Obama showed up.

    And if you remember one of those required college lecture courses in the large auditorium at 8:10 a.m. listening to a droning don, and how it felt, slumped in the cushy seats having skipped breakfast for an extra 13 minutes of ZZZZ.


    this news conference seemed anticlimatic. (See video below.) At times the president appeared to be mailing in his delivery.


    The result for anyone who stayed for the entire presentation was another lengthy, somber less-than-animated sales pitch for the need to spend trillions to jump-start the economy...

    Now, I don't want Andrew Malcolm to be bored. That's a less-than-ideal way to go through your workday.

    So here's a suggestion, Mr. Malcolm: Quit. Do it now. Hand in your press pass. There are plenty of out-of-work and soon-to-be-out-of-work-reporters who actually give a damn and who won't have any trouble staying awake for a presidential press conference and who are capable of producing a substantive article that will actually help readers understand what is happening in the world, instead of simply whining that they are insufficiently stimulated. Let one of them have your job. Take up skydiving or running with the bulls or whatever it takes to get you sufficiently excited, and let serious people do your serious job.

  • The Red Scare Index: 55

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communistic, Marxism and Marxist.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Tuesday, March 24, 2009:

    TOTAL: 55
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 45
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 9
    Marxism/Marxist: 1

    By Network:

    CNN: 7
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 4
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    CNN Headline News: 2
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 2
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    Fox News Channel: 28
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 26
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 2
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    Fox Business Network: 13
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 11
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 1
    Marxism/Marxist: 1

    MSNBC: 5
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    CNBC: 0
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a power search for these terms on these networks.

  • More theater criticism

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    It isn't just the Daily News. The New York Times' Peter Baker and Adam Nagourney write under the header "In a Volatile Time, Obama Strikes a New Tone for Crisis":

    Americans saw not the fiery and inspirational speaker who riveted the nation in his address to Congress last month, or the conversational president who warmly engaged Americans in talks across the country, or even the jaunty and jokey president who turned up on Jay Leno.

    Instead, in his second prime-time news conference from the White House, it was Barack Obama the lecturer, a familiar character from early in the campaign. Placid and unsmiling, he was the professor in chief, offering familiar arguments in long paragraphs — often introduced with the phrase, "as I said before" — sounding like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell.

    Got that? Baker and Nagourney were bored out of their minds. Where were the jokes? The yelling? The seal bouncing a beach ball on its nose? All of this policy crap is just so dull.

    But Baker and Nagourney weren't done:

    Mr. Obama showed little emotion. He rarely cracked a joke or raised his voice. ... his voice sounded calm and unbothered... To a certain extent, Mr. Obama's demeanor could have been calculated ... The only time he seemed irritated ... perhaps his only joke of the night ... This was Mr. Obama as more enervating than energizing.

  • The Village protects its own

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chuck Todd's suggestion during last night's press conference that President Obama should ask the public to "sacrifice" -- as though lost jobs, health care and houses aren't enough -- drew immediate and widespread criticism online. And not just from progressives. At National Review's "The Corner," Ramesh Ponnuru implicitly criticized the question, noting that Obama "made a reasonable point about the way the economy is already forcing people to make sacrifices." Todd's question drew rapid criticism on Twitter, too.

    Now, we know that the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz regularly reads National Review -- he quotes its content frequently. And we know he's an obsessive Twitter-user, and was Tweeting during last night's presser. So it's a little odd that his article about the press conference doesn't mention Todd's "sacrifice" question at all. It was perhaps the worst -- certainly the most widely-criticized -- question asked, and yet the nation's most prominent media critic didn't even mention it.

    In fact, if you didn't know anything about the press conference other than what you read in Howard Kurtz's article, you'd think Todd simply asked whether those who were "irresponsible" should be helped by Obama's policies. Here's how Kurtz described Todd's question:

    NBC's Chuck Todd said that "some of your programs, whether for Main Street or Wall Street, have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible."

    And here's the part of Todd's question Kurtz left out: "Why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?"

    Also missing from Kurtz's article: the word "deficit." That's more than a little surprising, given that the journalists who questioned Obama last night were bizarrely fixated on the topic.

  • Journalism as theater criticism

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The New York Daily News' Kenneth Bazinet and David Saltonstall mistook last night's presidential press conference for a Broadway opening.

    Headlined, "President Obama's Dull Delivery During Press Conference Fails to Inspire," the two theater critics announced:

    President Obama feels your pain - and your anger - but that assumes you have any feeling at all after his less-than-electrifying press conference Tuesday night. Obama used his second prime-time news conference to acknowledge disgust over AIG bonuses, but mostly he somberly urged Americans to be patient and give his multipronged economic blueprint a chance to work.

    Got that? In discussing his multipronged economic blueprint, Obama was too somber. Of course, this is the same Daily News that early this week mocked Obama for being too jocular during his 60 Minutes appearance.

  • Tonight's worst question

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chuck Todd leapfrogs Marc Ambinder's potential question with this actual one: "Why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?"

    UPDATE: A little background: a few weeks ago, Howard Fineman claimed "The Establishment" is unhappy about President Obama's "failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to 'give up' something." As I explained at the time:

    Obama has, of course, called for the very wealthiest of Americans -- those making more than $200,000 -- to make some sacrifices, in the form of higher taxes. So what Howard Fineman and the Establishment -- many of whom make more than $200,000 -- really mean when they complain that Obama isn't calling for sacrifice is that he isn't calling for sacrifice from the working class. If only Obama would demand higher taxes from laid-off autoworkers and middle managers and single mothers working two jobs, Howard Fineman and the Establishment would be euphoric.

  • Cue the world's smallest violins, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    CNBC throws a pity party for the TV nets because they have to air a primetime press conference from the White House tonight and have to adjust their "carefully designed" Tuesday lineups. And OMG, they won't be able to cram as many ads onto the airwaves tonight. And wouldn't you know it, it all couldn't come at a worst time!

    We noted last month how the WashPost scolded Obama for having the gall to address the nation in primetime. This CNBC report is just more of the same nonsense; nonsense we never saw from the press when Bush took to the airwaves.

    Today, next to AIG execs, it's hard to imagine who deserves less sympathy than television pros who use the public airwaves for free and set aside minuscule amounts for the country's good. Tonight's one such occasion and CNBC acts like the roof is caving in.

    We especially liked the CNBC lament that Obama's presser will muck up TV ratings:

    Tonight's press conference is on one of the most popular time slots on one of the highest rated nights in the week, and it's during the crucial sweeps' period where the nets set their ad rates.

    Actually, this year's March ratings sweeps (they're usually in February) are something of an industry joke and nobody's really taking them seriously anyway.

    So save it.

  • The early frontrunner for worst question at tonight's Obama presser ...

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Marc Ambinder:

    One Question I Might Ask Obama....

    On politics and the economy: your administration has said that furor over the AIG bonuses is, while understandable, a quote-end-quote -- distraction - from the real issues. But weren't those embers stoked by your own administration...before the AIG issue.....attempting to shift the debate in Washington from fixing the economy to punishing Wall Street?

    Are you concerned that your rhetoric about anger, and particularly, anger against Wall Street, helped enflame public anger and distract attention from the economy's real problems?

    Wouldn't it be better to ask a question that focuses on "the economy's real problems" rather than one that distracts attention from them?