Oblame the media! In the wake of Tuesday's game-changing defeats in Texas and Ohio (and hey, Rhode Island), Barack Obama is clearly steamed that the media turned on him. Yesterday in a media avail on his plane, he accused the media of being complicit in Hillary Clinton's "kitchen sink" strategy and allowing themselves to be "persuaded that you had been too hard on her and too soft on me." This, Obama seemed to feel, was clearly an injustice and had resulted in the press' abdication of their duty: "Hopefully now people feel like everything's evened out and we can start actually covering the campaign properly." Oh, snap! Step up, media, you really dropped the ball this time. (See video below.)
This improper coverage he's referring to presumably includes Tuesday's press conference, which was variously described as "combative" and "contentious" during which he was "grilled"
in "the toughest news conference of his campaign." According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Obama's initial smile upon greeting reporters was "quickly replaced by the surprised look of a man bitten by his own dog." But according to accounts of that press conference, the questions seemed legitimately driven by the news cycle, given the recent (and evolving) story of the report of an Obama staffer's backroom meeting with the Canadian embassy in Chicago to reassure them over NAFTA (which has since been dubbed "NAFTA-Gate" in some quarters, which can't thrill the Obama camp), and the kickoff of the Tony Rezko trial this past Monday. Also, according to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet, the toughness was helped along by the presence of some Chicago-area media who have covered Obama for longer and as such were not as "shy" about asking for specifics (she mentioned Sun-Times political columnist Carol Marin, who is cited in numerous reports on the press conference, along with Sweet, as being particularly inquisitive). The grilling sounds like it was more like a quick pan-searing, too — Obama cut off questioning with exasperation, saying (in the most-quoted line of the press conference), "Come on guys. I answered like eight questions. We're running late." Then he left. He didn't come back to talk to the press on his plane later, either.
Like, eight questions! Press, get your act together. You've got a campaign to cover .
Obama, the candidate almost always described as "cool," seems to be betraying more than a touch of annoyance lately. Now that the heat is being turned up, and another long slog looms ahead before Pennsylvania, it will be interesting to see not only how the press behaves with respect to both candidates, but also how Obama responds under the harsh new glare — and whether he submits himself to it willingly or continues his pattern of keeping the press carefully at arm's length.
In the meantime, chief campaign strategist David Axelrod clearly knows that the best defense is a good offense, brazenly turning the media-favoritism meme around and throwing it back: "The point we want to raise is that the vetting of Hillary Clinton has yet to start and that the hard questions haven't been asked of Sen. Clinton. And as I said yesterday, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. We think that there ought to be the same standard held to both candidates."
The same standard held to both candidates? Wow - dare to dream. In the next few weeks, we may just see it happen.
"Obama press conferences "relatively rare and often brief affairs" [The Caucus]
Obama stiffs, stifles national press [Politico]
Dream headline for this article: "Obama Oblames Media for Obacklash."