Media find Obama news conference insufficiently entertaining

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

Several media outlets echoed the assertion of a Drudge Report headline that President Obama's March 24 press conference was "boring."

Discussing President Obama's then-upcoming press conference on the March 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, when asked what he was looking for, Fox News contributor Fred Barnes stated: "I hope there are no more of these five-minute answers. It's hard to stay awake." Subsequently, during the press conference, Internet gossip Matt Drudge posted the headline "Being Boring" below a picture of Obama on his website. Drudge's headline initially did not link to an analysis by Drudge or to any articles but instead linked back to the Drudge Report homepage. After the press conference ended, Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity echoed Drudge, with O'Reilly calling Obama's performance "dull and repetitive," and Hannity calling it "boring and dull and uninspiring and unconvincing."

A March 24 New York Times article, a March 25 Los Angeles Times blog post, and a March 25 New York Daily News article also echoed this theme.

By 8:17 p.m. ET, Drudge posted the following headline on his website:

drudge-boring

Initially, Drudge's headline linked only to the Drudge Report homepage, Drudgereport.com. By 9:41 p.m. ET, Drudge had replaced the Drudgereport.com link with a link to an "analysis" of the press conference by Associated Press Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier.

Subsequently, on the March 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said, "While the president was authoritative tonight, he was also dull and repetitive. Only a few times did he connect with the folks." After airing a portion of Obama's remarks from the conference, O'Reilly added, "But most of the time President Obama gave long-winded answers and evaded direct questions."

On the March 24 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity called Obama "boring and dull and uninspiring and unconvincing." Fox Business Network anchor Alexis Glick later said, "It was not a good night. It was not a great night for them. I mean, there's some speculation, obviously, that they wanted it to be dull and dry and without any fanfare."

Additionally, in a March 24 article, New York Times reporters Peter Baker and Adam Nagourney wrote that Obama "sound[ed] like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell." Similarly, in a March 25 post on the Los Angeles Times' Top of the Ticket blog, Andrew Malcolm wrote: "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." Additionally, a March 25 Daily News article -- headlined "President Obama's dull delivery during press conference fails to inspire" -- reported: "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."

From The New York Times article:

For just under an hour on Tuesday night, 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.

[...]

This was Mr. Obama as more enervating than energizing, a reminder of the way he could be in his early days as a presidential candidate, before he became defined by rapturous crowds.

"He doesn't seem to emote any real urgency or anger," said Matthew Dowd, a former Republican strategist who has often been complimentary of the new president. "So at times it comes across as a bit distant and intellectual."

From Malcolm's Los Angeles Times blog post:

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.

From the Daily News article:

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.

"I am as angry as anybody about those bonuses that went to some of those very same individuals who brought our financial system to its knees," Obama told reporters. "But one of the most important lessons to learn from this crisis is that our economy only works if we recognize that we are all in this together."

For Obama, it was a delicate balancing act -- how to identify with the rage many Americans feel over Wall Street's excesses and trillions in new government bailout spending, while at the same time asking voters to move beyond the fury to something more constructive.

[...]

Having been chided for laughing off some serious questions on "60 Minutes" last weekend, Obama seemed intent on stifling virtually all emotion -- and running out the clock with a flurry of wonkish explainers and recycled answers.

"He's a new President, but it was the same old, same old," said University of Virginia political science Prof. Larry Sabato. "There just wasn't much there."

From the March 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: I want to go down the line quickly about the press conference tonight, his -- the president's second solo news conference. What are you are looking for, Fred?

BARNES: I hope there are no more of these five-minute answers. It's hard to stay awake.

NINA EASTON (Fortune Washington editor): He -- hard to follow that one.

From the March 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Thank you for watching us tonight for this special edition of The Factor analyzing the president's press conference. We'll also have a report from Jesse Watters on a Florida judge who released a convicted sex predator.

But first the "Talking Points Memo," the good and bad of Barack Obama's joust with the press. First of all, the press conference was designed to rally support for Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion, with a T, dollar budget, which has frightened many members of Congress. That kind of spending could lead to bankruptcy if the economy continues to be weak.

While the president was authoritative tonight, he was also dull and repetitive. Only a few times did he connect with the folks. Here's one of them.

OBAMA [video clip]: With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. I mean, you've got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You've got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day -- an entire day's worth of pay so that their fellow coworkers aren't laid off. I think that across the board people are making adjustments large and small to accommodate the fact that we're in very difficult times right now.

O'REILLY: But most of the time President Obama gave long-winded answers and evaded direct questions. Here's an example of that.

[begin video clip]

JAKE TAPPER (ABC News correspondent): Will you sign a budget if it does not contain a middle-class tax cut, does not contain cap and trade?

OBAMA: Well, I've emphasized repeatedly what I expect out of this budget. I expect that there are serious efforts at health care reform and that we are driving down costs for families and businesses, and ultimately for the federal and state governments that are going to be broke if we continue on the current path.

I've said that we've got to have a serious energy policy that frees ourselves from dependence on foreign oil and makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy.

[end video clip]

O'REILLY: Heard it all before. The president went on and on never answering that question.

"Talking Points" suspects many Americans missed the singing on American Idol tonight, but there was some dancing as the president just demonstrated, just a little press conference levity. All in all, pretty much same old stuff. Important stuff, but not much new in his presentation. That is the "Memo."

From the March 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: And joining me tonight is Alexis Glick from the Fox Business Network, Stephen Moore from The Wall Street Journal. Now, Alexis, I'm going to start with you. It's an ongoing debate. Listen, look, first of all, you take that teleprompter away. Besides being boring and dull and uninspiring and unconvincing, you know, he cannot really pull it off -- and even at his opening remarks on a teleprompter way out there, he can't pull it off without a prompter.

GLICK: It was not a good night. It was not a great night for them. I mean, there's some speculation, obviously, that they wanted it to be dull and dry and without any fanfare. I thought it was very interesting who he chose to call on, who he chose not to call on.

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