Amazing Media Self-Absorption


It’s not often that I laugh (appreciatively rather than mockingly) at anything Mary Katharine Ham writes, but she quite wittily captures the narcissistic self-absorption of CNN’s Ed Henry in his “after-action report” after the news conference last night (emphasis in original):

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Ed Henry’s question for the President last night, and the subsequent snippiness it inspired in President Obama, but I think the column-length play-by-play on “the exchange,” as CNN is calling it, is a bit much:

The pressure was on now because the president had called on me. Someone handed me a microphone, millions were watching, and it’s scary to think about changing topic in a split second because you might get flustered and screw up.

But it’s fun to gamble and like any good quarterback (though I was never athletic enough to actually play the position), I decided to call an audible.

Ed Henry, the Peyton Manning of the East Room. Or, is he more of a Randall Cunningham, ’cause this guy can move:

The president, like any good politician, decided to pick and choose what to answer. So he swatted away the budget question and ignored the AIG stuff.

So I waited patiently and then decided to pounce with a sharp follow-up. From just a few feet away, I could see in his body language that the normally calm and cool president was perturbed.

That’s not the end of the navel-gazing:

Falling firmly into the category of “Ginned-Up Controversy”: Politico’s breathless story and on-line poll about what people think of the POTUS’s stiffing the major dailies at last night’s news conference.

To their credit, editors from the WaPo and NYT brushed the whole thing off. But other newspaper folks were quoted sounding so hysterical and self-important that my initial apathy on the issue morphed into a measure of pleasure over the medium’s perceived slight. This from Charlotte Hall, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors President, to Politico:

[Hall] admitted to being disappointed that the president bypassed the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal in favor of questions from the TV networks, Univision, Stars and Stripes, the Washington Times and POLITICO.

“Newspapers do the majority of watchdog and investigative reporting in the country. Newspapers also ask tough questions at news conferences,” said Hall, the editor of the Orlando Sentinel.

“With their burgeoning online audiences, their reporting has reach and impact. So I was disappointed the president did not call on any reporters from the major papers. I hope he will be responsive to their questions in the future, not because that might help ‘save’ newspapers, but because they produce the strongest and most in-depth reporting on national affairs.”

Gag. While I agree that newspaper’s do God’s work in a way that most other mediums do not, it’s safe to say that most of the “in-depth” stories broken by the dailies in recent years haven’t come out of press conferences. …

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