There is this visual cliché you see in every movie, every television show featuring a politician. Pick one – anyone. It doesn’t matter. The scene is always the same. The well groomed politician comes out, grinning, or looking serious, depending on the moment. Microphones are thrust into his/her face. Video is rolling. There is either a friendly or hostile give and take with the press – but there is a give and take.
The cliché is real. One of the (sometimes) more annoying aspects of a free culture is the fact that a free (and often hostile, always annoying) press needs to have access to a candidate. Pick a candidate. Any candidate will do, from dog catcher to Presidential aspirant. This process is extremely important, guarded by the Constitution (freedom of the press) and is often the only time voters will be able to judge a candidate.
These are the fun times. We love watching our politicians squirming, sweating, and evading the answers. It has become something of a national pastime, right up there with tiddly-winks! We laugh, throw popcorn, and critique everything from body language to hair. What is she wearing today? The people have a right to know….don’t we?
"The Problem Is That That’s Not What You Guys Have Been Reporting On."
"Barack Obama used his first news conference after announcing his run for president to accuse the media of ignoring his substantive record and falsely depicting him as a lightweight. 'The problem’s not that the info’s not out there,' he said of his record on policy issues. 'The problem is that that’s not what you guys have been reporting on. You’ve been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit.'" (Ben Smith, "Obama Casts Peevish Eye On National Media" The Politico, 2/12/07)
We the people …. have a right to absolutely intimidate, interrogate, and question any perspective office holder, especially someone running for the job of President of the United States of America. How else are we going to know who and what they are? Does he have a temper? Does she really know how to kick back beer and shooters? Is he really that accessible? This is America. We want to know everything from the (nix that one) to what are the names of their animals. Did he or she sleep with a teddy bear when they were kids? Did they need a night light? Did she ever play Barbie? Was he that bad a pilot?
"I just answered, like, eight questions!"
"An exasperated Barack Obama scurried away Monday from the toughest news conference of his campaign, telling reporters who kept shouting questions that he'd spent enough time on the grill. 'Come on! I just answered, like, eight questions,' Obama, looking surprised, told shouting reporters as he fled the room." (Michael Saul, "Angry Barack Obama bombarded by media," New York Daily News, 3/4/08)
There is a normal give and take between a politician and the press. There are times (many) when it is hostile. There are also times when it is downright uncomfortably friendly. Always, though, there is a give and take with the press.
"Absolutely No Questions This Evening."
"'Senator, I was just hoping to ask what you want to accomplish this weekend.' [Obama] replied: 'It wouldn’t be fair to everybody else. We didn’t do a press avail for everybody else. Absolutely no questions this evening.'" (Mike Allen, "For Obama, No News Is Good News," The Politico, 2/2/07)
Barack Obama does not like to answer questions from the press or at appearances unless he is in complete control of the situation. Being a control junkie myself, I can understand the need to maintain absolute control of every situation. Being a political junkie, when I see someone so tightly controlled, it makes me wonder about a few things. Why is Barack Obama avoiding the hard questions?
"You Can Walk With Me. That Doesn’t Mean You Can Ask Questions"
"As Obama left the hotel reception, smiling and saying, ‘Thank you AGAIN,’ I introduced myself and said, 'Good evening, Senator, may I walk with you?' He replied, 'You can walk with me. That doesn’t mean you can ask questions.' I chuckled, thinking he was kidding. 'But you can certainly walk with me,' he added. The Senator then underscored, 'I’m sorry. I’m not answering questions.'" (Mike Allen, "For Obama, No News Is Good News," The Politico, 2/2/07)