I arrived back in D.C. last night from the South by Southwest conference and turned on the car radio, where I heard C-SPAN replay the "daily briefing" with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Normally this type of radio serves as an appropriate soporific after a long and arduous travel day, but I almost jumped out of my seat in dismay when I heard one of the most asinine questions of all time from an ABC news reporter, Jim Avila. In reference to the president's Funny or Die video with Zach Galifianikis to encourage youth enrollment in Obamacare, he inquired: "How much discussion was there in the White House about the dignity of the office and whether or not, in order to reach these people who don't watch us [the evening news] at 6:30, or who don't watch this briefing. ... How much the dignity of the office might be lost?"
Carney's answer was much too polite: "We obviously assess opportunities that we have and look at whether or not they're going to be successful and wise, and I think we made the right call here."
In my quixotic view, what a more pugnacious Carney may have responded is: "Hmmm, damage to the integrity of the presidency? An online comedy video with a premise to get young people health insurance, vs. Richard Nixon and Watergate?"
Or: "An online comedy video with a premise to get young people health insurance vs. flawed intelligence that led to an unnecessary war and thousands of American casualties?"
Or: "An online comedy video with a premise to get young people health insurance vs. allegations of illegal spying on American citizens?"
Or: "An online comedy video with a premise to get young people health insurance vs. torture, Guantanamo, or any myriad of other criminal justice oversights that tarnish the Presidency?"
It might also come as a surprise to this ABC "News" reporter that the median-age of viewers who watch his"newscasts" are in their 60s. Or that perhaps it might be clever for a president to embrace new and original forms of media outreach for a generation who spends between seven and eight hours per day online and gives traditional media a lower approval rating than Congress -- according to the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Yes, it's true: the times they are a-changin'.
It's also time to get some new journalists in the White House Q&A room. Immediately.
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