New Media’s Real Presidential Breakthrough

Calling it “something of a breakthrough” that, at his most recent press conference, Barack Obama took a question from Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, Steve Benen (Political Animal, 1/10/09) explains that Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz isn’t quite correct in saying “Obama made a bit of history by calling on the first blogger at such a session”: “In January 2005, then-President Bush called on right-wing blogger Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, who asked for the president’s thoughts on Democrats who are ‘divorced from reality.'” So, more accurately, Stein is just “the first credible and legitimate blogger to be called on at a White House press conference.”

Indeed, the differences are important. When the conservative Gannon/Guckert got to ask the president a question, he threw a rather pathetic softball, intended to help the president look good. When the Huffington Post‘s Stein stood up last night, he asked an excellent question that the president didn’t want to answer, on an issue most news outlets prefer to ignore: “Today, Senator Patrick Leahy announced that he wants to set up a truth and reconciliation committee to investigate the misdeeds of the Bush administration. He said that before you turn the page, you have to read the page first. Do you agree with such a proposal? And are you willing to rule out right here and now any prosecution of Bush administration officials?”

See how truly pathetic traditional media looked by comparison when, given his own opportunity, “the Washington Post‘s reporter asked, ‘What’s your reaction to Alex Rodriguez’s admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?'”