Fournier’s preoccupation

FOURNIER’S PREOCCUPATION…. If you read far-right blogs, you’ve probably noticed conservatives’ fascination with President Obama and teleprompters. The argument, in a nutshell, is the president can speak on substantive issues, but only if he’s reading from a screen.

As arguments go, it’s pretty silly. Over the course of the last two years, Obama has spoken without notes in hundreds, if not thousands, of town-hall meetings, candidate debates, and media interviews. The notion that the president can’t communicate without a teleprompter is absurd.

And yet, the meme has made its way from far-right blogs and talk radio to analysis pieces from Ron Fournier, the Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press. Here’s Fournier take on last night’s White House press conference.

What kind of politician brings a teleprompter to a news conference?

A careful one.

President Barack Obama took no chances in his second prime-time news conference, reading a prepared statement in which he took both sides of the AIG bonus brouhaha and asked an anxious nation for its patience. […]

One of the few times he summoned raw emotion came after a reporter demanded to know why it took him so long to express outrage over the AIG executive bonuses.

“It took a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Even better, he likes to have it up on the teleprompter.

This is an “analysis” piece? From where, the Republican National Committee?

Look, it’s not at all unusual for a president to read a prepared text at the start of a press conference. Modern presidents have done this many, many times. Last night, Obama had some specific things to say about a pressing international crisis, and instead of reading from note cards at the podium, he read from a screen. It’s hardly exciting, and it’s hardly worth obsessing over. And yet, here’s the Washington bureau chief for the AP insisting that the president is overly reliant on a “crutch.”

A.L. concluded, “The truth is, Fournier is a hack. The only reason to use the word ‘teleprompter’ five times in a 100 word write-up of a presidential press conference is in order to push a meme, a meme that just happens to be popular right now on right wing blogs. As usual, Fournier’s agenda is transparent.”

The five-in-100 ratio is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.