Because Beltway journalists think they're in the entertainment biz

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

That's the only reason I can figure out how this on-going, and completely unprecedented, media narrative that Obama's press conferences aren't entertaining enough continues to gain momentum. Based on the Nexis searches I've done, the WH press corps has never, ever used that as a way to critique pressers. The absurd yard stick has been invented out of whole cloth for Obama.

From CJR:

Among other things, we're dealing with a level 5 pandemic alert regarding the swine flu outbreak (Obama sounded, the LAT childishly pointed out, "more like school nurse in chief than commander in chief"), closely following a major counter-attack by Pakistani military this week against the Taliban, and continuing to discuss the ramifications of the recent release of Bush-era secret memos establishing the legal justification for interrogation techniques like waterboarding.

Obama, sandwiched between a nominal celebration of his accomplishments and a public wondering whether it should start wearing masks on the subway, chose simple over stirring. It seems unreasonable to so vigorously call that boring. The accompanying no-new-news accusations—which seems to stem from the same what, no thrills? impulse—just come across as peevish; as we've discussed here before, pressers may be about gaffes, gotchas, and maybe even about encouraging civic participation, but they've never been about breaking news.

But why? Why would so many in the press advertise their lack of seriousness by glomming onto such an overtly shallow talking point? I think it's because journalists, and especially the Village elites, see themselves as being in the entertainment business, and not the news business; not the public service business. And so their knee-jerk response is to announce whether official White House functions were fun and entertaining to them, and to pretty much ignore the traditional ways the press has covered and analyzed those events in the past.

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