TO: All the Better National Reporters
FROM: The Coach.
SUBJECT: The Appearance of Credibility.
Listen people, you’re doing great work. Our guy’s holding up very well considering how rough the economy is. No jobs, sky high dependency. Best part: people don’t blame him. They think he’s an innocent bystander rather than president for the last five years. We’re getting it done!
But one thing…maybe we gotta be careful not to show quite so much pompom and drool. Jackie Calmes and Michael Shear from the Times had a great sit down with the president. And who among us wouldn’t want to rub those shoulders and neck for 5,000 words? Am I right?
But in a really low blow, Matthew Continetti wrote a column pointing out that America’s elite scribblers had an extended audience with the leader of the free world and didn’t ask a single question about, oh, say, Edward Snowden, Lois Lerner, James Rosen, Mohamed Morsi, Bashar Assad, Nouri al-Maliki, Vladimir Putin, Hasan Rouhani, and Hamid Karzai. Not even about Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, or Bob Filner.
Now, of course it’s critical we keep lobbing the softball set-ups so our guy can blame everything bad in the world on Republicans. But still, to look honest, we probably have to throw the occasional fast ball, don’t you think? It’s unpleasant work, but if you lose your nerve, you can check YouTube to see the kinds of questions Sam Donaldson or Helen Thomas used to ask Reagan and the Bushes.
Anyway, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
“Mr. President, you recently said ‘Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson..’ What part of Ho Chi Minh’s policies and government most remind you of the American model?”
“Mr. President, James Hoffa and other leaders of some of America’s largest labor unions have written you strong letters harshly criticizing the Affordable Care Act, saying that it’s killing jobs and benefits. They’re demanding major changes. What is your response to these criticisms? [Yeah, I know we haven’t reported this much, so you could break news just by asking the question!]
“ Mr. President, there are some developments about Obamacare. First, it’s reported you’ll create an exemption to let members and employees of Congress escape the law’s exchanges. Second, the IRS employees who will enforce the law on ordinary Americans want to be exempt from the law themselves. Third, a new Obamacare call center to answer questions and help people enroll will offer only part time jobs, without health benefits. Sir, doesn’t this all seem mighty fishy?”