I’m tempted to call it a clown show but that would be insulting to clowns:
You know who asked some tough questions about Obamacare? Comedy Central.
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) October 8, 2013
It ran for one hour and six minutes, with 12 different reporters being called on — although, notably, not Ed Henry of Fox News — and between them they couldn’t muster one question about the catastrophe that is Healthcare.gov or the spectacle of National Park Rangers locking senior-citizen tourists out of war memorials and/or inside their hotels. I admit that, near the end of it, when Twitter was already starting to buzz about the oh-fer on this week’s two unhappy topics, I started rooting for the press corps to ignore them, not unlike how you might root for an opposing pitcher when he’s throwing a perfect game against your team in the ninth. On the one hand, it’s a disaster for your interests; on the other hand, you’re seeing something historic in process. Today, we all witnessed a perfecto — no runs, no hits, not the barest insinuation in front of a national television audience that the federal government’s behavior towards the public this week has alternated between almost literally unbelievable incompetence and vindictiveness. Amazing.
And of course, per the left/media, it’s the GOP’s fault:
The criticism invited some blowback form Democrats, including former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who tweeted, “Hey Republicans, maybe they’d ask about Obamacare if you didn’t do such a great job pushing that shutdown for no discernible reason message.”
Similarly, Slate’s Dave Weigel wrote: “Hey, maybe the press would have asked some Obamacare glitch questions if there wasn’t a giant f–king shutdown happening.”
Pure garbage. Even if you agree that the shutdown should have been Topic A at the presser, there’s no reason to spend 66 minutes on it without ever reaching Topics B or C. Given Obama’s reluctance to submit to press questioning, it may be months before they have another crack at him to ask about ObamaCare and the NPS’s behavior; they surely wouldn’t have had a chance today if not for O wanting to push his “no negotiations while the government’s closed” message. It’s the shutdown, in other words, that created this opportunity for them to get answers to questions they might not otherwise have a chance to ask — and they decided not to ask anyway. The result: A solid hour of talking points, the only interesting wrinkle to which was this.
What’s revealing about the “we would have asked if not for the shutdown!” defense is that it suggests that reporters are prisoners to the daily news cycle rather than the people who create the news cycle. You hear something akin to that during every election season, when some news anchor will interrupt six hours of wall-to-wall horse-race coverage to lament the fact that the media focuses too heavily on horse-race coverage to the exclusion of policy. Page one today is about the shutdown, ergo they’re duty bound to ask about nothing but the shutdown — even though they’re the ones who decided what page one would look like to begin with. Perfection.
Update: Evidently, this is only a concern of “the GOP media.”
Update: Mediaite’s now corrected the “GOP media” quote at the last link, but the underlying point remains. Somehow, it’s Republicans’ fault that the media can’t do its job.