Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic to complain about the crappy journalism in the 60 minutes interview of the President. That's an easy critique to make. The questions were stupid. But Friedersdorf then does something more difficult: he proposes alternative questions that are far worse. Here's Friedersdorf setting the stage:
Here's a journalist (ostensibly) working on behalf of a polity that has seen populist movements in the streets on the left and right, largely because they believe that there is an unseemly relationship between the federal government and Wall Street.The theory that the Koch funded Tea Party is a "populist movement" motivated by a belief that there is an " unseemly relationship between the federal government and Wall Street" is in a phrase, effing stupid. The Tea Party began with a rant by a business "reporter" about how it pissed him off that there was going to be help for people who were in trouble on their mortgages, its rallies were inchoate combinations of anger and open racism, and it featured slogans like "Get your government hands off my medicare." The stupid narrative of the "liberal" media, though asks us to pretend that this ugly eruption of white privilege, one shown by many studies to be a movement predominantly of older right wing Republicans was really a "populist" rebellion against the Obama administration. How silly of me not to appreciate the populist bone-fides of a Tea Party member waving a photo-shopped poster of the President with a bone through his nose. Truly a pathetic effort, but a good introduction to a series of questions that combine a kind of bitchy peevishness and an apparently boundless ignorance of basic civics with sheer disregard for facts.
- "Kroft could've asked whether Obama thought it was problematic for Peter Orszag to take a job at Citigroup;" and Obama could have said that in America people are allowed to take jobs and Orszag's job at the government had nothing to do with Citibank;
- "he could've asked whether it's true that Joe Biden called Jon Corzine at the height of the financial crisis to ask what the Obama Administration should do upon taking office" and Obama could have answered that it would have been utterly irresponsible of the incoming administration not to ask many people for advice - and the governor of New Jersey, a former Senator with experience running a big investment bank was one of many people they asked, duh
- "he could've asked about recent revelations that the Fed secretly funneled trillions to banks and failed to tell Congress about it. When did Obama know? Should anything be done about it?" and Obama could have answered that since information about those "secret funnelings" was published in the Wall Street Journal at the time they were made, they were appropriate, and made the government money, the only thing we could do about it is get a press corps that is not made up of morons who can't be bothered to do 10 minutes research;
- " Kroft could've pressed Obama about why he hasn't pushed to end the "too big to fail" status quo that could conceivably lead to another Wall Street bailout" and Obama could have urged him to read the effin text of the Dodd-Frank bill and then consider how hard it had been to get even that bill through the Congress. He then could have reminded the audience that Congress is the legislative branch.
An interviewer determined to challenge a sitting president, as every interviewer of every president should do, could've asked what Obama thinks about the fact that his drone strikes in Pakistan are destabilizing a nuclear power and killing innocent children; or whether Solyndra got special treatment because of its insider connections; or what he thinks about the Fast and Furious scandal and what Eric Holder knew about it.Let's see: a question based on the insane theory that Pakistan would be stable absent US drone strikes a guileless retelling in the form of a question of a Republican pseudo-scandal based on nothing, and a question the Attorney General has already answered. Fascinating stuff, no?
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