Liberal reporters are outraged that conservative media outlets are receiving a significant share of questions at White House press conferences.
Only liberal reporters, the line of reasoning goes, are capable of asking the tough questions needed to hold those in power accountable. Here are a sample of questions asked of former President Obama by liberal news outlets.
- “Golf, what does it do for you?” – CBS
CBS’s Harry Smith opened an interview with Obama during his first year in office by mocking the notion that liberal reporters could be biased and then concluded it by asking the leader of the free world about golf. “Golf, what does it do for you?” the brave reporter asked.
- “I’m wondering if you think that [Republican presidential candidates are] uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?” – CNN
CNN reporters have been especially indignant that conservative media outlets are being called on at White House press conferences. But the outlet’s journalists weren’t always so tough on the White House. In November 2011, CNN’s Dan Lothian spoke truth to power by asking then-President Obama if he thought Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain were “uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?“
- “Do you have a vindictive streak?” -NBC
NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who moderated one of the 2016 presidential debates, held Obama’s feet to the fire in one of his last interviews as president with questions like: “Do you have a vindictive streak?”
- What has “Enchanted you the most from serving in this office?” – The New York Times
Early on in Obama’s presidency, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny — with a straight face — asked Obama about what most “enchanted” him in his first 100 days in office.
Zeleny is now CNN’s senior White House correspondent.
- “In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?” – CBS
In one of the harder-hitting questions of all time, CBS reporter Harry Smith asked Obama about the way he acquired feelings. “In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?” Smith asked.
- “What hard things do you want to tackle at this point?” – CNN
CNN’s Jim Acosta, who has been especially upset about conservative media access to the White House, held Obama’s feet to the fire by noting, “it seems that you’ve built up some political capital for the remaining months of your presidency,” before asking: “What hard things do you want to tackle at this point?”
- “Are you ready to call yourself the ‘comeback kid’?” – Reuters
Reuters’s Caren Bohan gushed over Obama at a 2010 press conference, saying he “racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by” before asking: “Are you ready to call yourself the ‘comeback kid’?
- “You definitely have some impressive accomplishments….And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough?” – CBS
CBS’s Steve Kroft was mocked in 2011 when he spent an interview with Obama on “60 Minutes” lobbing softball question after softball question, including this remarkable exchange:
KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.
OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.
KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?
The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf called the interview “a typical example of a broadcast journalist failing to hold a powerful politician accountable.”
- “Have you given up on the Republicans?” – CBS
Not to be content with praising the interviewee’s accomplishments, Kroft went on to ask the president whether he had “given up” on the GOP. “Have you given up on the Republicans?” Kroft asked. “Have you stopped reaching out to them? Are you just out there now trying to get your message across?”
- “Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments?” – CBS (Again)
After buttering Obama up with soft questions about his golf game and whether he had given up on Republicans, Kroft finally went in for the kill. “Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments?” he asked. The Washington Free Beacon compiled some of Kroft’s most openly affectionate moments towards Obama.
- “[W]hat do you think Republicans will be sipping and saying next year?” – CNN
In the same press conference where Obama was asked if he was the “comeback kid,” CNN’s Dan Lothian asked the president what he thought “Republicans will be sipping and saying next year?”
- “How do you avoid the dangers of being too cocky?” – CNBC
CNBC’s John Harwood, whose closeness with the Clinton campaign was exposed by WikiLeaks last year, found it necessary to ask the president in 2009 how he avoids “being too cocky.” “How confident are you that your plan is going to work, and how do you avoid the dangers of being too cocky?” Harwood asked.
- “How does your golf game hold up next to Tiger’s?” – ABC
In 2013, Obama was finally pressed on the issue that matters most: his golf game. “How does your golf game hold up next to Tiger’s?” asked Dan Ashley, a reporter at ABC News’s San Francisco affiliate.