Charlotte Hays

A question has been haunting me since President Obama’s August 9, pre-Vineyard press conference: How does the press corps come up with all those stupid questions? I mean, you'd think somebody would screw up once in a while and ask a real question. But you would be wrong.

President Obama, whose polling numbers are in the tank outside the White House press corps, strode confidently to the lectern. There are, after all, worse things in life than being pelted by softball questions from a sycophantic press.

Right off the bat, AP’s hard-hitting Julie Pace demanded to know if the U.S.'s recent discord with Russia is Vladimir Putin’s fault. People are reading too much into Putin’s body language, the president said. But the Russian Olympic teams will suffer from not having gay and transgender athletes, he added. I’m glad we got to the bottom of that one. Note (the press didn’t) that throughout the press briefing, the president calls Putin “Putin” and the traitor Edward Snowden “Mr. Snowden.”

CBS’s Major Garrett followed Pace with another toughie. Does the president think his forthcoming appointment of a new Fed Chairman is important? “[D]o do you believe this will be one of the most important, if not the most important, economic decisions you will make in the remainder of your presidency?”

Glad you asked, Major. Yes, my decision regarding the new Federal Reserve Chairman, like all my decisions, will be very important. The Fed Chairman will be there after I’m no longer president. You can look it up.

Ideally, a White House press briefing by the president affords the press—and, by extension, the public—a golden opportunity to obtain information by direct questioning of the chief executive. But this rarely happens today.

The White House press briefing, whether by the president or spokesman Jay Carney, has become so pointless that a former Obama press aide, Reid Cherlin, writing in the liberal New Republic, called for this “unholy charade,” as he dubs the briefings, to be abolished. Oddly enough, Cherlin’s reason for calling off the briefings is that the press has fallen out of love with the president and that therefore there is too much “skirmishing” in the briefings.

“The daily briefing has become a worthless chore for reporters, an embarrassing nuisance to administration staff, and a source of added friction between the two camps. It’s time to do the humane, obvious thing and get rid of it altogether,” writes Cherlin. Oh, no, we can’t have friction in the briefing room! That adversary-thing should happen only when an evil Republican occupies the White House.


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.