It’s not easy replacing a legend, and it doesn’t get any easier when the folks in the control room remind you that the legend still gets top billing. What, they couldn’t bring themselves to give Bret Baier the same screen turf as Brit Hume? Baier’s their anchorman, for Pete’s sake. Why does the retiree get two-thirds of the turf in this two-shot? Still, even if Hume dominates the screen, he gives his protege some well-deserved kudos for a job well done:
Hume’s right about this, but it applies to any celebrity interview — which, let’s face it, is exactly the treatment Presidents get in the modern age. People used to cheer when journalists asked tough questions and put politicians on the spot, including Presidents, but that changed — and not just with Obama. Sympathy started shifting at least as far back as when Poppy Bush rid himself of the “wimp” label at the expense of Dan Rather, and arguably when people applauded Ronald Reagan for talking over the heads of reporters directly to the American people. In other words, he ignored journalists, and people loved him for it.
So why do people side with politicians over the people who are supposed to hold them accountable? I don’t have a scientific analysis of this, but I’d suspect it came in reaction to the realization that some journalists have oversized egos and their own political axes to grind. Seeing Rather get his comeuppance from a wily Bush showed that if celebrity politicians are held in low esteem, celebrity journalists aren’t any more beloved. And for those of us on the Right, let’s not forget which side we cheered when people asked tough questions of George W. Bush, either.
At any rate, Hume rightly praises Baier’s work, as he did do a good job of refusing to let Obama off the hook for his non-answers, and clearly annoyed Obama because of that. Don’t be too surprised when people take that annoyance as an affront to the dignity of the office, which is exactly the wrong impulse.