Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Obama in a Media Hall of Mirrors

During serial interviews with local TV, the President is caught showing frustration with an aggressive Texas reporter who pushes hard about his unpopularity in the Lone Star state.

When it's over, with the camera still on, the Commander-in-Chief complains: “Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?”

Life is imitating art again in the media hall of mirrors, as the President's reaction echoes a 2002 incident in "The West Wing" that may have inspired John Kerry when he was running for President in 2004.

Kerry, wearing a live mic, told voters his opponents were "crooked" and "lying." Back then, a New York Times column on "the gaffe," titled "Testing, Testing. Shrewd Politics or Kerry Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome?" suggested the Democratic candidate was taking a cue from the TV series:

"In one episode of the show two years ago, President Bartlet was giving a news interview and, once the interview was over, proceeded to disparage the intelligence of his Republican opponent, as the television camera kept rolling. There was a spate of stories critical of the president, but also, stories questioning the intelligence of Bartlet's opponents.

"The point of the episode was that President Bartlet had meant what he said and said what he meant.'The West Wing' has fans on the Kerry staff."

Whether President Obama was just annoyed at his Texas questioner or consciously letting off steam, the small uproar over his remark points up the disrespect for the nation's chief executive that has grown in this century, first with George W. Bush and now with his successor.

Nobody wants to go back to the overly compliant press of the past, but neither should any yahoo with a camera crew be badgering the President as he tries to get through to Americans about his deficit proposals.

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