Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Note to Bob Schieffer on Interviewing Obama

Today, I returned home to Boston from New York and was thus spared the bombardment of all Obama all the time on the Sunday news shows.

However, while in a cab en route to the Port Authority, I did hear some commentary on the radio from Bob Schieffer, host of Face The Nation on CBS:

My job is to show up and ask questions. The president's job is to hold himself accountable to the people who elected him. That means answering questions.

Why would I want to stop him?

It works out better when we both stick to our basic assignments. We ask, he answers.

Do I like the round robin of interviews? Not as much as I like exclusives.

But the president - any president - is the world's number one newsmaker. When he invites me over to ask him questions, I'll be there.

Not to offer advice, but to take notes.

With all due respect to Mr. Schieffer, I think journalists are little bit more than mere note takers. I want our journalists challenging politicians when they give answers they cannot possibly back up. How can President Obama say he'll implement health care reform without adding a dime to the deficit? Today, President Obama told Schieffer he'll implement health care reform without raising taxes. Schieffer ought to have channeled John McEnroe and told him, "You cannot be serious!!!" I am not suggesting Schieffer should have thrown a water bottle at Obama but act as something other than a note taker. If journalists are nothing more than note takers then CBS should have sent some freshly minted journalism graduates to interview President Obama.

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