Anyone who watches the entire segment will see that there wasn’t anything loaded about Obama’s laughter. (Most commentators ultimately admitted as much.) And no one in his or her right mind would think, as the administration rolled out its bank rescue plan yesterday, that Obama was making light of the economy, or, really, any aspect of his job—from bailing out the auto industry to talking up the plan for the newly dubbed legacy assets to assuaging public opinion of the beleaguered Geithner. And that’s precisely what makes the spotlight on Obama’s laughter so frustrating. It may have been a politically louche moment, but no one actually thinks it’s consequential. The discrepancy between the headlines and the stories—“punch drunk”-heavy on top, more substantive down below—shows us as much.
And yet, keeping in line with the let’s-make-something-out-of-nothing state of mind, the NYT, prepping its readers for Obama’s primetime press conference tonight, asks, “Will he make any gaffes?” The laughter wasn’t a gaffe. But yes, that’s the way to ramp up for tomorrow’s story. Maybe he’ll even flash his pearly whites.