That Whole Journalism Thing Isn’t So Easy

Bloggers throw softballs and irrelevant questions at Obama

Bloggers rightly criticize the press for focusing on the trivial at the expense of the meaningful, process at the expense of the issues, and for not asking tough questions when given the chance to question the president of the United States.

So liberal bloggers had a chance to show us their stuff in a sitdown/quasi press conference yesterday with Obama. They didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory. Here’s the first question:

Thanks for having us here, Mr. President. Just to start off, because the news of the day is obviously what just happened in Kentucky. What’s your feelings on the thought of a Rand Paul supporter actually stepping on the neck of a female MoveOn supporter?

Hey, Mr. President. You’ve got 18 percent unemployment and underemployment, two wars going on, etc. What do you think about a dude in Kentucky stepping on a liberal? Get outta here.

This one isn’t exactly a fastball, either:

Along those lines, Mr. President, on the economy, we do have 9.6 unemployment; economic projections aren’t looking very positive from anybody, with the ongoing foreclosure crisis, as you suggested. Can we expect further initiatives coming out of the administration and maybe Congress post-election?

This one’s weak and poorly constructed:

I was wondering if you’re happy with the federal response to the foreclosure crisis or if you think there’s more that either should have been or could be in the future done either through HAMP or Fannie and Freddie or various mechanisms?

And this one’s just lame:

I want to go back to the idea of working with Republicans. And given the comments from McConnell and — well, all of them — I think that what a lot of people find frustrating is that our side compromises and continues to compromise just to get that one Republican on. We’re going to get one of the Maine twins — whatever. And it doesn’t happen, and then by the time health care or whatever goes through we’ve compromised; we still don’t get any Republicans.

I don’t anticipate this changing in the next two years. I think it’s going to get worse. How are you going to get Democrats to understand that compromise means the other side has to give something sometimes, one day?

There were some good questions. Both were about gay rights. One was an exchange over gay marriage that took on the president’s evasiveness on the issue and issued some good follow-ups when Obama tried to evade getting pinned down.

I understand the analogy with the traditional press conference is hardly exact here. But it’s also not exactly an inspiring performance by the blogs.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.