A lot of outrage, and not-so-gentle mockery, emerged yesterday over a classic Politico piece by editor Jim VandeHei and chief reporter Mike Allen complaining about President Obama’s manipulating the press, or just ignoring them, or shutting them out, or something. This comes on the heels of vapid criticism of the president for not allowing journos to observe and photograph him at his crucial summit meeting over the weekend… on a golf course, with Tiger Woods.
In any case, to VandeHei and Allen, Obama handles the press like a “Puppet Master.” They seem to feel this is unprecedented and a turning point for the Republic. Apparently, they yearn for the days when they could be spun at close quarters by, say, key occupants of the Bush White House, on Iraq.
And, as real DC journalists know, the best White House reporting can, and should, be done away from the spinmeisters, right up to the president. Let’s recall that the main reason the Knight Ridder reporters were just about the only ones who threw red flags in the run-up to the Iraq invasion was because they did not rely on inside sources at another institution known for spin, the Pentagon.
So John Cook, editor of Gawker, performed a public service by posting on Twitter every question Allen chose to ask President Bush when he did get full access back in 2008. You may remember 2008—the economy was about to collapse and we were still in a full shooting war in Iraq. His feed @JohnJCook still lists all of the Qs (a few are even serious), but these below catch the spirit.
Keep in mind that Allen wrote today that Obama avoids Politico reporters in part because they “ask tough, unpredictable questions.” And don’t miss Charles P. Pierce’s full, fun, autopsy here.
All right. Mr. President, who does the better impression, Will Ferrell of you, or Dana Carvey of your father?
Mr. President, I know you’re going to hate this, but I’m hoping that we may twist your arm and talk about baseball for just a moment.
Now, Mr. President, I wonder if you think that Major League Baseball is doing enough to combat steroids use?
Mr. President, you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
Now, Mr. President, you and the First Lady appeared on American Idol’s charity show, “Idol Gives Back.” And I wonder who do you think is going to win? Syesha, David Cook, or David Archuleta?
When you took her arm [at a daughter’s wedding], Mr. President, what were you thinking? What was your toast?
What are you looking forward to when you finally get your computer back?
In the spirit of the Internet, I wonder if we could ask a question from one of our users?
Mr. President. You talked about some tough decisions—what was the happiest moment you’ve had in this amazing room?
Greg Mitchell is author of more than a dozen books, including four on influential American political campaigns, such as Obama-Romney 2012.