Presser Yields Little News, Mixed Reviews
By Ben Pershing
With so much going on at home and abroad, with the public anxious and the economy still struggling, it's difficult for the president to field an hour's worth of questions from an eager press corps in the heart of prime time and not make news or shift the current terms of political debate in any substantive way. Yet it seems that's exactly what President Obama did last night, drawing some good reviews for his performance and some mediocre ones but dazzling no one.
The Fix thought Obama "struggled badly" at the start of the presser, with his gaze below camera level as he "sped through" his opening statement. Tom Shales also noted the poor start but felt that while Obama "wasn't quite as energetic as in many of his other TV appearances, he still came out victorious." Peter Wallsten thought Obama "looked as though he would have preferred to be someplace else," provided "no memorable moments" and brought "no special energy" to his answers. Mike McCurry and Dana Perino agreed that the event lacked drama, with McCurry suggesting that the days when networks will block out a valuable chunk of prime time may be coming to an end.
On the substance, many observers were surprised that there were no questions centered on Iraq, Afghanistan or the overall fight against terrorism. Foreign policy in general got very little attention, though it's not clear whether that was really the fault of Obama or his questioners. Speaking of the latter, does Obama think newspapers are not just dying but already dead? Lots of love last night for reporters from the networks, radio and magazines but relatively little for the dead-tree brigade. Presumably Obama will not be backing this bill.
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