Because All Things Will Return, Eventually, to the Miracle Ear

Remember that weird moment, during last night’s White House presser, when the president called on Steve Koff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer—and another guy leaped up to ask a question?

Yes. “Shame on you,” Obama told the encroaching pressman.

Turns out the usurper was Steve Thomma of McClatchy Newspapers, who, last night, wrote a blog post/profuse apology explaining the incident.

“Ok, so that was embarrassing,” Thomma began.

During President Obama’s prime time news conference, I happily stood up and asked him some questions about health care when he called on me. The only problem was, he didn’t call on me.

Fact is, he called on Steve Koff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I have to confess that I’m hard of hearing, and I thought I heard my name. As I turned to grab the microphone from the young aide kneeling just beside me in the White House East Room, I never heard the part about the Plain Dealer.

I suspected something was amiss when Obama made a reference to visiting my home town tomorrow. He’s going to Cleveland. I’m from Chicago. Hell, I’m a White Sox fan, a fact that once elicited a good natured apology from the same Mr. Obama for placing me in a news conference seat labeled for Cubs fans.

Now it’s my turn to apologize. I was mortified to see that I’d taken the question away from Mr. Koff, who, to his credit, jumped up after me to demand his time.

Then, in a rhetorical flourish worthy of Dr. Johnson, Thomma concluded his apologia:

All I can do is add my personal anecdote to the national health care debate: if insurance covered the hearing aid I so obviously need, I’d never have appeared to a national TV audience with a label underneath saying I was from Cleveland.

Well played, sir.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.