BETTELHEIM: I actually think that these sort of open-ended questions, he was trying to catch him by surprise and and get him to go off of his talking points, and that is always good. I think those things tend to be good, because [Obama] is a smart guy, he thinks well on his feet, and at this time, he might have some reflections on what has surprised him, if he was able to accomplish what he wanted, whether he is awed by the responsibility he wakes up with every day.

VAN SUSTEREN: A lot of people have said— and Times has, of course, endorsed the president— that [the Times is] in bed with the president, but throwing those open-ended questions, hoping to attract someone into saying something… in a peculiar way, I thought it was a good question, but I knew he would be hammered for it as being soft.

Bernard Goldberg, in this exchange with Bill O’Reilly, also argued Zeleny’s wasn’t a bad question, but not because of the introspection it might have provoked from the president but because of what the question itself tells us about Men Today —particularly Men In Journalism.

O’REILLY: Did he actually say that word, enchanted?


GOLDBERG: Yeah, we’re saying this is the worst question, but it’s really a fascinating question. Let me tell you why. I cannot picture any journalist asking Franklin Roosevelt if he was enchanted or Harry Truman. I mean he had a foul mouth. Or Dwight Eisenhower or even Kennedy or Nixon because they were men of a different era, they were men of a John Wayne era. Today’s men — a lot of men today, even men in powerful positions, especially men in journalism— they’re softer, they’re what a friend of mine calls NPR men, they want to know about your feelings, whether you’re enchanted. If I did a piece about you, Bill, like for my web site or for a magazine, and I said, “Bill, what is it that enchants you?” you’d punch me in the head.

O’REILLY: I don’t know what that means. I know what The Enchanted Forest is.

GOLDBERG: It’s the kind of question that fits our metrosexual times.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.