As frustrating as it is for you and me to have to deal with our hopeless beltway media, imagine how frustrating it must be if you are Obama. Well, now you don’t need to imagine:
In a little noticed aside at the end of Thursday’s jobs summit, Obama effectively painted the press as an obstacle to not just the much-needed economic recovery, but to America recovering its 20th Century position as an economic powerhouse.***
But then Obama made a turn, and went after the press, specifically the group of network correspondents who had interviewed Obama on his trip to Beijing. The full passage follows after the jump.
Obama: But it’s not going to come easily and it is going to require a level of cooperation and a willingness to work strategically together that we have not seen over the last several years. And frankly, this town and the way the political dialogue is structured right now is not conducive to what we need to do to be globally competitive. And all of you are leaders in your communities — in the business sector and the labor sector, in academia, we even have a few pundits here — it is important to understand what’s at stake and that we can’t keep on playing games.
I mentioned that I was in Asia on this trip thinking about the economy, when I sat down for a round of interviews. Not one of them asked me about Asia. Not one of them asked me about the economy. I was asked several times about had I read Sarah Palin’s book. (Laughter.) True. But it’s an indication of how our political debate doesn’t match up with what we need to do and where we need to go.
Pretty pointed stuff, and I have little doubt that the president was actually irked by this at the time. Through both the campaign and his presidency, Obama has made little secret of his disdain for some of the horse-race, tabloid elements of the press corps–though his political and communications staff are not above sometimes exploiting those same tendencies for their own benefit. Obama meets regularly off-the-record and on-the-record meals with columnists who his advisers see as more intellectually substantive (or politically influential). But he has not done the same with beat reporters, whom, as he suggested Thursday, sometimes do a disservice to the country with the journalistic equivalent of ambulance chasing.
Is there any doubt in your mind that Obama is not 100% correct about the press being an obstacle? Think of all the mindless crap churned up the last few months in the media. Christ, Chuck Todd’s twitter feed alone justifies Obama’s remark. At any rate, this reminds me of one of my favorite Obama quotes from last year:
I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ Instead of being appropriately [the tape is garbled]. So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f–––ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.
For some reason, I have this clip running through my head right now:
You get the point.