Substance Abuse

21 Jul

There’s a major difference between a nationally televised press conference, and a topical conference call with a discrete audience. But putting Jake Tapper‘s hairspray aside for a second, I was struck by how stark the contrast is between the substantive nature of the questions asked by liberal bloggers during yesterday’s health care conference call with President Obama, and the showy stagecraft that characterizes most presidential press conferences.

I guess we have known for a long time that the cliched image of the blogger in pajamas doesn’t really stand up to reality, but for all of the uproar about who’s getting questions at press conferences, bloggers have shown time and again that they’re the real deal when it comes to putting serious questions to people in power. The timing of yesterday’s call offers a pretty good chance to compare and contrast the quality of bloggers’ questions with those of the media elite. Here’s the audio via Crooks and Liars, how will the mainstreamers stack up on Wednesday?

For some clues, watch last month’s presser (below) with the President in the White House briefing room and try to point to any question that attempts to advance the substantive discussion of public policy above creating drama. All the reporters are conditioned to play to the camera, to seek the news making moment rather than inform their viewers/readers/listeners about the choices and decisions their government faces.  I know, I know this is old hat but rarely do we get to see it play out this well in the same week.

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