Why is the US press so craven and timid in questioning the President at live press conferences? Is it really a career ending move to call the President a liar? What would be the real world ramificaitons of doing this?
The battle is not always to the strong, nor the race to the swift, but that’s the way to bet it.
Calling a nuclear power, the president of the united states, commander in chief of the combined US military and one of the most politically influential people on the planet a liar to his face goes a bit beyond “cowboying up.”
Also, reporters are supposed to be objective. While that’s often a struggle, calling the president (or anyone) a liar will wreck your reputation.
Also, questioners are picked by the President as he stands behind his lecturn and this administration has been known to pad the gallery as it were. Remember the gay porn actor/Republican operative who was supplied with questions to give Bush a chance to elaborate on his talking points.
If there is a member of the press that is believed to be antagonistic towards the President, Bush avoids calling on him or her to pose a question.
Just ask all those reporters who lost their jobs during the blacklisting of the 1950s. You can find them behind the counter of your local Starbucks.
They have eighty and ninety year old baristas? Wow!
Meh, didn’t calculate the ages. Substitute “Wal-Mart greeter.”
That’s a ridiculous and false accusation! How dare you?
…IIRC, he was a male prostitute.
I suppose Helen Thomas can get away with it, but for other reporters I think the answer is yes. Media outlets that try to be objective won’t employ somenoe who’s done that, so there might still be work available at more partisan stations or publications.
What good would it do?
I watched a few minutes of the press conference this morning and in just 15 speech units (45 words), the President managed to answer a pointed question about his stance on racial inequity with “I feel hurt that someone would claim I don’t care about racial issues” and some talking points about private social security.
If he doesn’t like the question, he ain’t gonna answer it.
In 2003 I posted a pit thread about a prior Bush press conference, White House Press Corps - A Pack of Yipping Lap Dogs. In that thread, former White House reporter Jonathan Chance, posted a number of interesting replies about the pressures that inform the presidential press corps and the reasons they don’t tend to ask particularly challenging questions.
I found his responses both fascinating and horrifying.
It’s the president’s show, and he can make his own decisions. If he gets a prickly question, he can, and often does, either evade it or simply lie. If other reporters ask the same thing, he can say, “I’ve already dealt with that. Next question.” Reporters who ask pointed questions don’t get called on any more. So, if you ask one of those, (which the pres won’t answer anyway) you become useless to your boss. Catch-22.
Helen Thomas, who never took guff from any president, was once seated on the front row of press conferences not because she was the dean of the WH press corps, but because she represented a major wire service. (UPI?) She always got the first question. Now, she no longer works for them, and she sits farther back.
I don’t see how being “objective” and calling the president a liar are automatically mutually exclusive.
Can’t one objectively believe they are being handed bullshit?
Or conversely objectively believe they are hearing the truth?
Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.
I actually doubt she could at this point. She used to be the Queen who always got Question #1 but the administration broke that tradition because she asked hardball questions. Now she usually gets to ask but not prominently.
It is also the procedure that reporters ask questions. “You’re a liar.” isn’t a question. The technique is to ask questions in such a manner that lying, evasion and answering a question different from the one asked become obvious to the listener.
Unfortunately it is difficult to pin an experience interviewee down. They are skilled at the bafflegab that works around questions. A popular method is to start off with the statement, “That’s a good question and I think it’s important to put it in perspective.” Then to launch into a preamble so long that the original question is lost sight of at which point the speaker can bring up what it is he (or she) wants to talk about.
I reckon that since our free press reports on these press conferences as if any meaningful truths are uttered, that they are just as deserving of being called liars.
Ahem…one thing that seems to have gotten lost here is the fact that no one actually knows, much less can prove, that the President lied about anything.
It’s also interesting to hear all these comments on the need of the press to ‘appear’ objective. Sort of puts the lie to the assertion so often seen around here that media bias doesn’t exist except as a devious right-wing construct, doesn’t it?
Bush speech, April 20, 2004:
And that was just the latest example.
I don’t read that as a lie so much as I do a decision made between April of 2004 and December of 2005 to make a change in wiretap procedure…possibly as a result of urgent events of an overriding nature that may have occurred during that time.