Obama Advisor: “There is No Such Thing as a Softball Interview”

Daniel Doherty

4/3/2013 8:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

Really? I beg to differ. And for the record, any thinking person who watched that oh-so-servile Obama/Hillary interview conducted by Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes last January knows Mr. Pfeiffer is lying through his teeth:

President Obama has built a reputation for going around the traditional White House press corps in favor of so-called soft media, taking his message to “The View”, ESPN and friendly local radio, among other general-entertainment outlets.

Who can forget these hard-hitting questions Obama was asked by a New Mexico radio station last August: “What’s your favorite song to work out to?” “If you had a superpower, what would it be?”

But senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer scoffed at the suggestion that the White House is deliberately avoiding tough questions.

“There is no such thing as a softball interview,” he insisted during a Politico breakfast on Wednesday morning.

He noted that Obama fielded serious questions on drones from Jon Stewart and that a recent appearance on Jay Leno’s show was far more than fluff.

“We’re going to do interviews with everyone from Jon Stewart to 60 Minutes to Bill Simmons’ pod cast – and everything in between – if that’s what it’s going to take to reach audiences, particularly those between 18 and 35 who don’t consume media in the same way,” Pfeiffer said.

There are plenty of examples -- especially during the 2012 election -- when the president went on overtly friendly television/radio shows to gossip -- i.e., not to answer tough, nuanced questions about policy. And sure, while not every conversation was a cakewalk, to say that “there is no such thing” as a softball interview is absurd to me. Case in point: how would one describe this exchange between President Obama and a local New Mexico radio station last year, which subsequently became fodder for a Republican attack ad released by the RNC? Here’s a taste of that conversation:

To be clear: I’m not suggesting that accepting this “interview” was somehow beneath the office of president of the United States. On the contrary, I think it was very smart politics and probably helped him reach out to low-information, clueless voters -- many of whom helped re-elect him. On the other hand, what I am saying is that there’s absolutely no way to describe what you just heard as anything other than “soft,” despite what Mr. Pfeiffer or any of his colleagues might say.