This account of Barack Obama’s rather robotic demeanor and lack of candor with the press left me thinking something is terribly wrong–with the press. I don’t expect politicians to divulge deep secrets to or share tidbits with the entire press corps. Nor am I surprised that Obama, who rarely smiles or shows emotion in public appearances, wouldn’t be much different in his semi-public interchanges with the media.
No, what impressed me was the passivity of the press in the face of this. He’s not sharing with you? Ask him some hard question and see if he blinks. He only wants to banter? Don’t banter back; probe something he doesn’t really want to talk about. Do your job. Somewhere, the press developed the notion that their job was to simply take at face value whatever he or his spin doctors came up with. They simply don’t probe, question, or confront him like other candidates. They continually defer back to the approved Obama storyline–whether it’s on his problematic relationships or his redistributionist views.
Perhaps if they challenged him, argued with him, and engaged in the same back-and-forth that they do with other candidates, they (and in turn we) would learn something. Not just about Obama’s substantive views, but also about how he reacts to criticism. The press can’t both be his friend and do their job. They may be wounded or miffed he doesn’t regard them as confidantes. But they shouldn’t be surprised they haven’t figured out who he really is. They haven’t, after all, tried very hard.