The performance of the White House Press Corps during President Obama’s Tuesday afternoon briefing resulted in not a single question that seriously challenged the president or even made him uncomfortable. The hour-long affair was more like a conversation between the like-minded on issues such as the ongoing budget battles and going around Congress by raising the debt ceiling by executive fiat. Anyone who remembers the non-stop confrontation directed at President Bush just a few years ago, by this same group of reporters, would not recognize them today.
Not a single reporter confronted Obama over the violent rhetoric he and his administration have been using to describe Republicans, or even the fact that as a Senator, Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling — a position he is now describing as dangerous, irresponsible and akin to hostage-taking.
In fact, in this briefing, Obama used the words “hostage, insane, ransom, nuclear bomb, chaos, disaster.”
Mark Knoller of CBS News is the only reporter that asked the president about the individual compromise spending bills the GOP have passed to fund the parks, veterans, and National Institutes of Health, among other items. Obama swatted away the question with talking points without being challenged on the fact that this veto threat means children suffering from cancer will not get treatment from the NIH.
No reporter even asked about the ObamaCare launch debacle.
Here are some of the questions that were asked:
Julie Pace of AP
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Obviously if Congress does pass a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling bill, those may just be short-term measures. If that happens, does your offer to negotiate with them on issues like health care and spending and deficit reduction still stand in the intervening weeks if they pass measures that are just perhaps six weeks or two months long?
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You laid out the economic consequences of default, but if we were to get to that point, would you prioritize and pay bondholders first to maintain the semblance of credit or — rather than Social Security recipients or military servicemen and women? And how would you go ahead and make that determination?
Sam Stein, Huffington Post.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. 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?
Q: Thanks. You talked a bit about the hit to credibility around the world that this impasse has caused. I’m wondering what you and your administration are telling worried foreign creditors, China and Japan, who are calling and then asking about whether the United States is going to avoid defaulting on its debts?
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned the Supreme Court, and the term started today with a campaign finance case that sort of picks up where Citizens United left off. You called Citizens United devastating to the public interest, so I wonder if you could weigh in on this latest case.
Respected members of the media also described the performance of their colleagues in the press corps as “pathetic.”
Questions from WH press corps are pathetic. As of this moment, not a single tough or challenging inquiry.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) October 8, 2013
Agreed-Nothing at all RT @brithume Questions from WH press corps are pathetic. As of this moment, not a single tough or challenging inquiry.
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) October 8, 2013
Like you, @brithume, I have friends in that room and hate to criticize ’em, but weren’t we tougher on Presidents Clinton and Bush?
— Carl Cannon (@CarlCannon) October 8, 2013
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