In Defense of Tommy Christopher
Tuesday, Mediaite White House correspondent Tommy Christopher made headlines for asking a highly unorthodox question of White House Spokesman Jay Carney. My friend and colleague Ben Shapiro hammered him as a "numbskull" for asking the "single worst question ever."
I disagree. I'm glad he asked it. I wish more White House correspondents behaved this way.
Hear me out.
Christopher used his own personal experience (he suffered a heart attack a couple years ago) to ask a not-so-Socratic question of Carney:
First of all, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but when I had a heart attack three years ago, I was uninsured, and I haven’t been able to get insurance ever since then. Listening to all the pressure on the president to negotiate, a lot of it from inside this room, it made me think, is there a chance the president would be willing to delay Obamacare for a year if Republicans were to agree to delay heart attacks for a year?
Let's set aside, for a moment, that Christopher embarrassingly exposed Dan Abrams and Mediaite.com as a less-than-desirable employer for not offering health insurance to one of their full time employees. That's merely an amusing byproduct of this fascinating exchange. [See update below]
I understand why the question (and Christopher himself) have been lampooned, but isn't this what we really want of the White House press corps? Tommy Christopher is an unapologetic liberal. He defends President Obama and liberal politicians and commentators whenever he has the chance. He makes no secret of it. He doesn't pretend to be unbiased and neutral. He wears his politics on his sleeve. And I appreciate it.
Which would you prefer, the "unbiased" White House correspondents who regularly hammered President Bush with totally slanted and biased questions designed to elicit a damaging sound byte to advance the cause of the liberal agenda -- remember when he was repeatedly asked to list his "mistakes" in the Iraq war?
Or the softball questions asked of President Obama by "neutral reporters" at White House press briefings -- remember, "You are no doubt aware of the comments that Missouri Senate candidate, Republican Todd Akin made on rape and abortion. I wondered if you think those views represent the views of the Republican party in general. They have been denounced by your own rival and other Republicans. Are they an outlier or representative?"
Would you rather have the White House press corps play into the "Potemkin Village" press conference rules Carney set up last week where only "friendly" reporters were called on to ask the president softballs about the government shutdown? Remember: "With Speaker Boehner so far unwilling to hold a vote on a clean CR, what assurances can you give to those affected by a shutdown who are concerned about an even longer impasse? And how worried are you personally that your preferred solution to this clean CR and sequestration levels may do harm to the nation’s economy and your second-term agenda?"
Isn't it better for these obviously liberal reporters to stop lying to the American people, stop pretending to be neutral and expose themselves as the liberals they are, like Christopher? After all, the White House press corps famously votes Democrat over Republican by a factor of nine to one. We all know they're on the left. So let's stop pretending. At least Christopher had the courage of his convictions to tell the world, "Yup, I'm a lefty and I have an agenda, and here it is."
Andrew Breitbart said in his book, Righteous Indignation: "My mission isn't to quash debate. It's to show that the mainstream media aren't mainstream, that their feigned objectivity isn't objective, and that open, rigorous debate is a positive good in our society. Man, how I long for the days of Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Abbie Hoffman, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce." Those people Andrew longed for were hardly conservatives.
Shouldn't we welcome the "Tommy Christophers" of the world? Don't we want obviously liberal reporters like Chuck Todd to drop the feigned neutrality and stop treating us like children? Don't we want the liberal reporters in the White House briefing room to show themselves for who they really are just like Christopher did? And then, the American people can see them for who they are.
Watch the fascinating exchange here:
UPDATE: According to sources at Mediaite, at the time of Christopher's unfortunate health problems he was freelancing at the site and, therefore, was not eligible for their fine health insurance that Mr. Abrams does, in fact, offer to his employees. I stand corrected on this point.