When media attack: The “details” edition

Media are criticizing President Obama's address on the Gulf oil spill as lacking specifics. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski described such criticism as “drivel” and argued that they would criticize his speech no matter what he says; indeed after past speeches and press conferences, the media attacked him for being too professorial, lecturing, boring, or arrogant.

Media declare Obama's oil spill speech to be short on “details,” “specifics”

Fox & Friends: Obama speech “short on details” ... “It was so pie in the sky.” During the June 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson repeatedly said the president did not give “enough details” during his speech:

DOOCY: Effectively, people want to know. Where's the beef? Where are the details? We want to know how it's going to happen.


DOOCY: I think we all wanted to hear specifics. We wanted to hear, well, we're drilling these relief wells and within three days or three months or whenever -- we wanted details. There just weren't many. It was so pie in the sky.


DOOCY: We just didn't hear enough details last night.


CARLSON: Many people this morning in analysis, Mr. Axelrod, are saying it was short on details. How do you respond?

Beck crew: “What's hilarious is he was so non-specific.” On the June 16 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, guest hosts Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray discussed how it was “hilarious” that Obama's speech was “so non-specific.”

Washington Examiner
: “Obama offered a general plan with few new specifics.”
In an analysis of the speech, the Washington Examiner's Julie Mason wrote, “Portraying the BP oil spill in warrior terms as a 'siege' to be fought on the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama offered a general plan with few new specifics for the battle.” Mason added, “But with his own crisis management under critical scrutiny -- and finally necessitating the politically weighty setting of an Oval Office address -- the president's own message was at times muddled and indirect.”

Powers: “Marshmallows have more substance” than Obama's speech. Kirsten Powers wrote for FoxNews.com and the New York Post, “President Obama last night gave his first Oval Office address to the nation to lay out his plan for dealing with the crisis in the Gulf. If you missed the speech, don't worry: Marshmallows have more substance.”

Brzezinski: Criticism is “knee-jerk” and “drivel”

Brzezinski notes that if Obama “went out there and read ... an encyclopedia,” critics “would be saying he's a professor.” On the June 16 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, after Mike Barnicle stated that he felt Obama did not provide enough specifics on an energy plan during the address, Brzezinski said:

BRZEZINSKI: My point is that it just seems like he can't do anything right. And here he is setting the path that you're talking about, and now you're criticizing it for it not being enough. And if he went out there and read, like, an encyclopedia, you guys would be saying, he's a professor. It's too much information. I mean, please. Please, seriously. It's enough. This is just drivel ... Come on, do you hear yourselves? Do you all hear yourselves? It's so knee-jerk. Let's see what happens.

Indeed, media regularly pan Obama's speeches as “boring” and “professorial”

LAT's Malcolm: "Professor Barack Obama showed up." On his Top of the Ticket blog, the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Malcom wrote of Obama's April 2009 press conference:

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.

Rove: “Boring, boring news conference.” During the April 29, 2009, edition of Fox News' Hannity, contributor Karl Rove said that the press conference “was boring,” “flat” and “dull.” He later stated: “There were a couple of very important moments in it -- I don't deny that -- but it was a boring, boring news conference.”

Rollins: “The answers are a little long... it gets a little boring.” During CNN's April 29, 2009, coverage of the press conference, contributor Ed Rollins stated: “I thought his opening statement was perfect. You know, what bothers me a little bit about it: As it goes on, it gets a little bit more boring. And, you know, you need to hold that attention span a good half-hour, a good 45 minutes. The answers are a little long. He doesn't know how to turn and pivot off of them. But nothing incorrect that I heard, it just -- it gets a little boring.”

Matthews: Press conference was “boring beyond death.”
On MSNBC's April 29, 2009, Hardball Late Night, host Chris Matthews asked political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell: “Why, Lawrence, are these press conferences that this guy holds so frighteningly boring?” He added: “Why does everybody act like they're in a sepulchre of some kind? They're so dutiful, it's boring beyond death.”

Carlson: “I suddenly woke up from nodding off.”
During the April 30, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Carlson stated, “I suddenly woke up from nodding off” when Obama was asked by a New York Times reporter “what had 'enchanted' him.”

Politico: Obama's answers are “long-winded.” In an April 30, 2009, Politico article headlined, "Obama works to avoid being exciting," editor-in-chief John Harris and senior political writer Jonathan Martin wrote that Obama's answers were “not usually all that newsy, and, let's face it, occasionally long-winded.” They added: “Far from electric, this was a tranquilizing performance. So much so that it was impossible not to conclude that a president who certainly knows how to be exciting was making a calculated effort not to be.”

McArdle: Obama's speech to Congress was “dangerously wonky” and had a “lecturing tone.” Discussing Obama's September 2009 speech to Congress, Megan McArdle wrote in a post on The Atlantic:

· The speech, overall, was dangerously wonky. I'm guessing a lot of people tuned out well before the end, and more probably can't hold the details in their head. The speech won't change much; this is going to be fought out in sound bites and attack ads.

· I think the lecturing tone at the end is a mistake. Obama's trying to evoke community and can-do spirit, but it comes off like having, well, an elite university professor lecture you on your moral obligation to provide health care to a third party.

Geraghty: Speech “felt professorial, esoteric, abstract, and strikingly lacking in specifics.” National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote that Obama's May 2009 national security speech “was about theory, and even in this circumstance, where a foiled plot to blow up synagogues in the Bronx isn't even the biggest news of the day, it felt professorial, esoteric, abstract, and strikingly lacking in specifics. I can only imagine how this will sound when there are bodies in the streets.”

Right-wing media also attacked SOTU speech as “arrogant,” “cocky,” and “lecturing”

Palin: Obama was “lecturing, not leading.” On Fox News, Sarah Palin reacted to Obama's January 2010 State of the Union speech by describing it “In a word: lecture.” She continued, “I think there was quite a bit of lecturing, not leading, in that, as opposed to Governor McDonnell's follow-up comments, where, quite inspiring, his connection with the people.” Appearing on Sean Hannity's program, Palin also said, “I think that there was a lot of lecturing going on tonight versus inspiring the American people and independent politicians who were sitting there in the audience waiting to hear some acknowledgment that there has been a disconnect between the White House and the people who are expecting more from our government.”

RedState: “Obama the Patronizing Lecturer.” RedState contributor Dan Perrin described Obama as “the Patronizing Lecturer,” writing: “It was more like a lecture that combined a chest-beating tone that he is doing the tough work of saving the nation and he expects Congress and the nation to follow him.”

Erickson: "[C]ocky and snide." RedState.com's Erick Erickson wrote: “What you did not know at home listening to Barack Obama's speech tonight is that he inserted a few quips that were not in the prepared text. They were cocky and snide.”

Stossel: Obama “certainly didn't sound humbled.” Before the address, Fox Business' Neil Cavuto asked: “What do you want to hear out of the president tonight?” Host John Stossel replied: “Well, I'd like him to say, 'Gee, I'm so sorry. I was arrogant. We were arrogant. We thought we could reshape the world to my vision. So we wasted lots of your money.” After the address, Stossel reacted by claiming Obama “certainly didn't sound humbled, I agree.”

Nordlinger: Obama “looks arrogant,” has an “upturned chin.” On The Corner, National Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger wrote: “Obama looks arrogant, whether he's arrogant or not. I don't think he can help it: It's the upturned chin. When actors want to preen and so on: They turn that chin upward. Yikes.”

Thiessen: Obama address “defensive, arrogant.” On washingtonpost.com, author and former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen wrote: “Instead of acknowledging these concerns [about terrorism], Obama dismissed them. It was strange, defensive, arrogant -- and un-presidential.”