Here’s a live log of the questions the media asked after President Obama’s scoldy opening statement regarding four reforms he is proposing to rein in his own domestic surveillance.
First question, Julie Pace of AP — Pace asked Obama about the US-Russian relationship after Putin granted Edward Snowden asylum. Obama manages to work in another statement in favor of gay rights after taking a swing or two at Putin. Oh, and the US won’t boycott the Olympics in Russia. Don’t call Barack Obama another Jimmy Carter!
Second question, Chuck Todd of NBC — Todd asked Obama whether he now thinks Snowden is a patriot, or still a “hacker” as Obama claimed earlier. Todd worked in a second question about relations with Russia, angering Obama. The president did say that he doesn’t think Snowden is a patriot for leaking about programs that the president now says he wants to fix.
Third question, Major Garrett, CBS — Garrett asked about the next Federal Reserve chairman. Not exactly a topic that’s been all the rage in Washington lately. Obama takes the opportunity to defend his potential choices and then bizarrely segues into defending Susan Rice for lying about Benghazi. Obama jokingly tells Garrett that he would defend him from untrue charges. Well, sir, Sen. Harry Reid just blamed opposition to your policies on racism. No one in the media asks him about that.
Fourth question, Carol Lee — Lee says it’s been a “slow news week” despite new revelations on surveillance, the IRS scandal, Weiner, Filner and Benghazi, then asks Obama about his evolution on surveillance issues, noting that he ran against it but now expects the American public to trust him. Obama admits here that some of the things he criticized as a candidate, surprise, turn out to be valuable for national security. Some of us didn’t have to win the presidency to figure that out.
A half hour in, we’ve only had four questions asked, and nothing about the IRS or Benghazi revelations. Bonus: Obama set keyboards a-twitter when he said the word “jigger.”
During one of the president’s filibusters, National Journal’s Ron Fournier asked a good question on Twitter: “Is Obama more concerned about civil liberty issues or the political fallout of leaks (‘dribs and drabs’). From tone of newer, it is latter.” Also, Obama made a weird comparison to NSA snooping and doing the dishes at home.
Fifth question, Jonathan Karl, ABC — Karl asks a tough question, whether Obama still believes that al Qaeda is “decimated” as the US has closed dozens of embassies. Obama insists that “core” al Qaeda is still decimated, a statement they probably laughed at on that intercepted conference call that launched the evacuation that the State Department won’t call an evacuation. Obama said that it’s still decimated and “very weak” but its regional affiliates still pose a threat.
Sixth question, Ed Henry, Fox News — Henry asks about the Oct 1 kickoff of Obamacare and which parts Obama would choose to implement if he could (he already made that choice when he delayed the employer mandate but not the individual mandate). Henry also asked about the lack of progress in getting the terrorists behind the Benghazi attack. But nothing about the CNN reports of CIA shenanigans to keep Benghazi covered up. On Obamacare, the president says that he didn’t act unilaterally, but in consultation with businesses. The law doesn’t allow the delay, but Obama blamed his actions on the “political environment.” He called his delay a “tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law,” even though it does. It’s one of the means by which Obamacare is funded. On Twitter, NRO’s Jim Geraghty pointed out that “Obama knows Obamacare is great, because guests at his bill signing ceremonies tell him so.” Obama then blamed the Republicans for fighting Obamacare, a position which enjoys strong majority support, which Obamacare itself has never had. From this point Obama went into full partisan attack mode, assaulting Republicans for having an “ideological fixation” focused on stopping Obamacare. Obama compared the disastrous rolllout of Obamacare to Apple “rolling out the new iPad.” iPads weren’t forced on Americans against their will. Obama then railed hard against Republicans who would rather “shut down the government” rather than “advance the middle class,” or something.
Seventh question, Jessica Yellin, CNN — Yellin asked Obama if he’ll let the government shut down rather than give up on Obamacare. Obama refused to engage in hypotheticals, then went on to attack a vast army of straw men.
Eighth question, a question about immigration reform. We’re close to an hour in, and the media apparently believes that the IRS scandal is as “phony” as Obama says he does. In response to the slow-pitch question from a reporter whose name I didn’t catch, Obama went into his standard boilerplate about how passing the Senate’s bill would fix the economy and everything else that ails us. Obama took the opportunity not to reach out to skeptics of the bill, but to scold them. That’s his style.
Ninth question, oops, there was no ninth question. Over and out and off to Martha’s Vineyard.
All in all, the media’s performance was slightly better than Jay Leno’s. But not a whole lot.