BORED NOW…. President Obama covered a fair amount of ground in his White House press conference last night, talking about the economy, the impending flu pandemic, and the faltering U.S. auto industry. The president fielded questions about nuclear arms possibly falling into the hands of the Taliban, torture, violence in Iraq, and Arlen Specter’s big party switch. Obama also addressed hot-button issues like abortion and immigration.
The problem, according to a variety of pundits, wasn’t with the questions or answers, but rather, the fact that they found the hour-long Q&A insufficiently entertaining.
During the April 29 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, contributor Karl Rove said that the press conference “was boring,” “flat” and “dull.” He later stated: “There were a couple of very important moments in it — I don’t deny that — but it was a boring, boring news conference.”
During CNN’s coverage of the press conference, contributor Ed Rollins stated: “I thought his opening statement was perfect. You know, what bothers me a little bit about it: As it goes on, it gets a little bit more boring. And, you know, you need to hold that attention span a good half-hour, a good 45 minutes. The answers are a little long. He doesn’t know how to turn and pivot off of them. But nothing incorrect that I heard, it just — it gets a little boring.”
On MSNBC’s Hardball Late Night, host Chris Matthews asked political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell: “Why, Lawrence, are these press conferences that this guy holds so frighteningly boring?” He added: “Why does everybody act like they’re in a sepulchre of some kind? They’re so dutiful, it’s boring beyond death.”
During the April 30 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated, “I suddenly woke up from nodding off” when Obama was asked by a New York Times reporter “what had ‘enchanted’ him.”
If this seems kind of familiar, conservative bloggers had the exact same response to last month’s prime-time White House press conference.
I find all of this quite strange. Sure, if a junior-high-school civics class were assigned to watch the press conference, I can imagine the teenagers saying, “A president discussing current events? While ‘American Idol’ is on? Spare me.” 13 year olds tend to have short attention spans and little patience for a discussion about whether the Pakistani government is likely to survive.
But folks like Rove, Rollins, Matthews, and Carlson, among others, are ostensibly media professionals, paid to, you know, cover politics. When the president of the United States, in the midst of several ongoing national and international crises, talks to the nation about current events, the appropriate response from on-air analysts shouldn’t be, “Bo-ring.”
It’s their job to find stuff like this interesting, or barring that, important. What do these guys want? A laser-light show? Hand puppets? Back-up dancers?
Note to conservative media personalities: grow up.