But even this journalistic ABC is debatable in today's Obamedia. Time magazine's Joe Klein, while traveling abroad ("I'm in Europe on my way to Afghanistan"), was moved to blog against the "inanity" of the Obama-Hillary press conference questions, particularly the Baker question. Klein asked:
"What sort of journalist expects the president-elect to tell the 'inside story' of how he selected Hillary Clinton? (Those sorts of stories," he continued, "if told at all, are wrenched from aides on background -- and reported only after consulting multiple sources.) And what's the point of raising the nasty things Obama and Clinton said about each other during the primaries? Did the reporter expect Obama to say, 'Well, I still believe her resume is overblown, that's why I appointed her ... oh, and by the way, she still thinks it's dumb to talk to the Iranians without preconditions.'"
This is nothing less than breathtaking. Because, as Klein has effectively admitted, there is no plausible, logical or even grace-saving answer to the why-Hillary question, Klein sees no reason at all to ask it. This hyper-protective rationale opens a window onto a mindset that has long baffled me: Reporters like Klein simply don't want to put politicians like Obama (or, for that matter, Clinton) on the spot. Their litmus test appears to be: If it doesn't promise a good Obama answer, it's not a good Obama question. Indeed, according to Klein, there were much "better" questions reporters could have asked at that same Obama-Hillary press conference, a few of which he thoughtfully provided, including:
-- "Are you still going to call it the Global War on Terror?
-- "What are you going to do about Robert Gates's staff of Bush administration holdovers?"
-- "Could you give us a better sense of what the vice president's role will be in your Administration?"
-- Is he kidding?
Let's just say these aren't exactly queries born of zapping neurons, let alone a detectable pulse.
Elsewhere in the MSM, CNN's Campbell Brown of "No Bias, No Bull" reacted to the Obama-Baker exchange with far more lively sarcasm and fervor.
"I mean, really," Brown said, "how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-Elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience just a few months ago, and yet today, you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team." Brown went on to nail Obama's "fun" response as "an attempt to delegitimize" the question.
"But it is a legitimate question," she continued, adding: "Annoying questions are about more than just the press 'having fun.' Annoying questions are about the press doing its job and the people's right to know."
Could this mark the decline of Obamedia-mania? Don't hold your breath. Paradoxically, though, even as the conservative punditry glows with a strange rapture over President-elect Obama's emerging Cabinet, there is at least a limited revolt in progress among the MSM.
Of course, we still don't have an answer to that one good question.