At his news conference on Wednesday, President Obama opened with a statement of over 1,100 words, all of it on gun violence, including his announcement that “I’ve asked the Vice President to lead an effort that includes members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January — proposals that I then intend to push without delay.”
That should reasonably have been expected to put the gun control issue to bed for the rest of the day. How many meaningful questions could reporters possibly pose after all of that (other than the one Jake Tapper of ABC asked, which will be seen later in the post)? But as Ben Sisario at the New York Times’s Media Decoder blog reported Wednesday afternoon, that didn’t satisfy many media critics, who — with Sisario seeming to agree — expected and wanted to see an all-gun-control, all-the-time exercise, and were angry that it didn’t unfold that way (bolds are mine throughout this post):
At News Conference, Reporters Skip Past Gun Control and Face Instant Criticism
The harshest judges of those in news media are often others in the news media, and, with the benefit of Twitter, that intrajournalistic watchdog role can be performed simultaneously with the journalism being criticized.
Case in point was the White House news conference on Wednesday afternoon, when President Obama made a forceful announcement in response to the massacre of children last week in Newtown, Conn.
… His words, after five days of extensive news coverage and national debate, were intensely focused on gun violence. He addressed no other topics. Yet judging by the questions that followed his address, most of the members of the Washington press corps had other things on their minds.
“I’d like to ask you about the other serious issue consuming this town right now, the fiscal cliff,” was the first question, from The Associated Press’s correspondent, Ben Feller.
Mr. Obama answered. Then came the next question, again about the so-called “fiscal cliff”: “What is your next move?” Then: “You mentioned the $700,000, $800,000 — are you willing to move on income level?” And so on, for at least 15 minutes, before a question about gun violence was finally asked, by David Jackson of USA Today.
Media watchers on Twitter — mainly other members of the media and some whose job it is to watch it — quickly seized on the questions as a sign that the Washington press corps was out of step with the national agenda.
The whiners Sisario cited included some of the usual suspects: an unnamed tweeter at the Huffington Post, Eric Boehlert, and CNN’s Piers Morgan.
The disgruntled should be relieved that Obama didn’t get more gun-related questions. Jake Tapper of ABC asked a question (HT the Daily Caller) which, after nearly four years of inaction, should be on the minds of both Obama’s friends and his foes. Note the obviously testy presidential response:
It seems to a lot of observers that you made the political calculation in 2008 in your first term and in 2012 not to talk about gun violence. You had your position on renewing the ban on semiautomatic rifles that then-Senator Biden put into place, but you didn’t do much about it. This is not the first issue — the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years. Where have you been?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s where I’ve been, Jake. I’ve been President of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation.
And so I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington.
Obama then concluded the conference, possibly because things were starting not to go his way, and because gun-related questions would probably have sent things further downhill. The whiners seem totally oblivious to that.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.