Steve Inskeep of National Public Radio interviewed President Barack Obama on Monday, as a government shutdown loomed. To his credit, Inskeep asked an interesting question about why President Obama has seen economic inequality grow rapidly on his watch. But to his discredit, Inskeep allowed Obama to dodge the question, and arrived prepared with his own ready-made excuse for the president’s failure.
Inskeep introduced the question after a discussion about Obamacare, noting that inequality is a “decades-old trend,” but “a good part of that trend has now taken part…on your watch.” The president replied with excuses–including his now-customary attacks on technology–and claimed he had reduced inequality by increasing taxes on the rich (which, at the time, was defended as a fiscal necessity, not redistribution).
Instead of challenging the flaws in Obama’s answer, Inskeep rescued him: “The economist Tyler Cowen was on our program the other day. He’d written a book about income inequality. And he argued, based on his analysis, that it’s really inevitable, it’s going to get worse, and the thing for public officials to do is to adapt to it rather than try to change it.” The president then launched into a high-minded, meaningless monologue.
Inskeep’s interview ought to be fodder for ridicule by fellow mainstream journalists. But most share NPR’s left-wing bias and the President’s radical politics. If they challenge, they do so from the left: it is acceptable to press Obama on inequality, but not to ask whether inequality ought to trump economic growth. In that way, they not only shield Obama from any serious scrutiny, but also promote his policies and worldview.