Mitt Romney has long been enveloped in “the Mittness Protection Program” and it has been difficult for reporters following him to even ask a question (both in the United States and at “Polish holy sites”) However, Barack Obama hasn’t been much better.

The President hasn’t taken questions from the White House press corps in nearly two months. Instead, he has done local interviews where he has gotten softball questions, complied here by Buzzfeed, including “If you had a superpower, what would it be.”

This bipartisan resistance to taking questions from the media hurts our democracy and undermines political discourse. It leads to a greater emphasis on gaffes and miscellany in press coverage. After all, if politicians don’t takes questions, all that is left is to analyze how well they deliver their own message and which leads to even a mildly off-key comment, like President Obama making a crack about Rutherford B. Hayes, dominating a news cycle.

Politicians often say they want to focus on the issues. But that means taking part in dialogue and explaining a position. And that can’t happen if they don’t take questions from the press.

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Ben Jacobs

Follow Ben on Twitter @bencjacobs. Ben Jacobs is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. His work has been published in New York, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and numerous other publications.