Obama Lectures Pesky Media For “Wasting Question” And My Personal Questions About Blago Comments On Obama.

12/17/2008 01:28:00 PM

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Gee, what a surprise.  Maybe Obama needs to learn, just like Rahm, that if you avoid the topic, you are going to just get questioned more.  Welcome to being a major part of government Obama.  And if you think that you can “pick and choose” which reporters to ask questions, that is true however, I’ve noticed that many MSM reporters, especially those in Chicago, are now asking questions in articles that we, the bloggers, have been asking for months.

Now Obama has been much more “transparent” and open to questions in comparison to previous Administrations however, taking questions and answering questions are two completely different matters.

The reporter in question, John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, asked some very simple questions.  He wanted to know if there should be a special election to replace Illinois Governor Blagojevich, and about contacts with the Governor.  McCormick has a legitimate concern.  And McCormick is not new to asking questions on things people don’t like.

I think Obama could have answered at least the first question on the first time, and then simply stated that he couldn’t answer other questions because he had been asked/told by the US Attorney’s Office to not answer them as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had asked Obama to postpone releasing the investigation’s results until December 22nd with Fitzgerald’s office later issuing a one-sentence statement confirming the request, so that it canconduct certain interviews.”  It’s not that difficult to say “I can’t answer your questions because I have been asked by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to not answer them until next week.  I am sorry, but that is the way it has to be to ensure the validity of the investigation.”  Is that so difficult?

Instead Obama decided to be a jerk by lecturing and scolding the reporter and choosing to answer a third question by the reporter about his jump shot in what could be a Saturday Night Live skit.  The brush off’s and deflecting the press are now becoming more and more common with Obama and reporters.  And it is still yet to be seen exactly how much the Obama team knew about Blago, and if they knew he was selling the seat, then why didn’t they turn him in, especially since Obama is so hell bent on changing the corruption in government?  Is Obama’s own state exempt from being busted?  Especially since Michael Sneed, from the Chicago Sun-Times, even reports that Rahm is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds.  That’s a lot of conversations for just saying “Hello.  How ya doin’?” 

Additionally, it seems to now become a trend with Obama to avoid taking a position on virtually every new issue since his election, wanting to only talk about his team, or what he’s going to do to change our world in his press conferences. 

Mark Whitaker, NBC Washington bureau chief, said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama’s post-election pressers.  “Our job is to hold him to account,” Whitaker said, adding that he thinks “we’re going to have to get tougher.”

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter followed up:  “We need the Sam Donaldsons of the world.”

Today in another episode of the “Obama Show”, at a press conference just minutes ago, Obama was asked about how he squared his commitment to transparency in government with the tight-lipped response he and his advisers have had to questions about their dealings with the scandal-tarnished governor.  Obama said that it had been “frustrating” to maintain silence but that questions will be answered next week – which happens to be when he will be in Hawaii on break.

It’s a little bit frustrating.  There has been a little bit of speculation in the press that I would like to correct immediately.  We are abiding by the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Obama said.  “But it’s not going to be that long.  By next week, you guys will have the answers to all of your questions.”

As Obama spoke, his political adviser David Axelrod and chief of staff designate Rahm watched.  Axelrod stood motionless, hands on hips, a frown partially hidden by his moustache, who was checking a message on his Blackberry when the question was asked, smiled in faint amusement, put the Blackberry away and watched the rest of Obama’s response with his legs crossed at his ankles, arms crossed and a single finger pressed across his lips.  He was still smiling.  Such a wonderful display of “superior mentality” in body language.

Axelrod had previously said that Obama had directly spoken to Gov. Blago about the Senate vacancy on November 23, 2008 on FOX News Chicago report.  “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surface, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”  On Tuesday of this week, Axelrod issued a statement retracting his previous statement.  “I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy.  They did not then or at any time discuss the subject",” said Axelrod.


Another example of Obama “scolding” the press was when he made his announcement about appointing Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State.  When asked about how his opinion had changed so much from the campaign time, Obama replied “this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign” adding that many things said were because of the “heat of the campaign”, minimizing statements he had said against Hillary Clinton and her experience in foreign affairs choosing to attack the reporter instead.

Back on December 3rd,  Campbell Brown of CNN had a lecture for Obama about the press after Obama’s statements to the press about appointing Hillary Clinton:

“There we go again.  The pesky media – all we want to do is have a little fun, stir things up for our own amusement.  I mean, really, how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-Elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy experience just a few months ago, and yet today, you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team?  It’s a clever device, treating a question so dismissively in an attempt to delegitimize it, but it is a legitimate question.  As annoying how you may have found it, it is a fair question.  It was only in March of this year that Greg Craig, your new White House counsel, put out a memo over four pages long, outlining by point Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy claims, calling them all exaggerated, just words, not supported by her record.

Now, look, maybe you regret what you said about Hillary Clinton.  Maybe it was, as you suggested today, all just said in the heat of the campaign.  If that is the case, and you are both now rising above it, then you deserve to be commended for that.  And you could have been explicit in saying all of that today.  You could have explained the evolution of your thinking, instead of belittling a question you didn’t like.

Mr. President-Elect, reporters, we hope, are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years.  Get used to it.  That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable.  But this isn’t just about the media.  It’s about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn’t.  Apparently, as you made clear today, you didn’t mean what you said about Hillary Clinton.  SO, what else didn’t you mean?  The media is going to be asking, and you were wrong today.  Annoying questions are about more than just the press having fun.  Annoying questions are about the press doing its job and the people’s right to know.

Many Obama supporters are pulling a phrase from the campaign, calling the questions about Obama and his team’s relationship with Blago a manufactured “smear campaign,” and harassment of Obama by reporters.   And in fact choosing different news outlets that focus only on the “good” of Obama, and not facts of everything.  I’m sorry, I didn’t know that asking simple questions about a major topic, that Obama has said only “We are not involved” or something to that effect isn’t good enough.  Please tell me when anyone has EVER taken any government officials word as the straight truth on a scandal?  Or are the Obama supporters simply ready to take Obama at every word he says without questioning?  Stupid is as stupid does, I suppose.

And one thing that no one but Chicago newspapers, seems to be picking up on is that Eric Holder, Obama’s pick for Attorney General, was Gov. Blago’s pick to sort out the mess involving Illinois’ long-dormant casino license.  Blago and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder’s role as “special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board” – a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington D.C. law firm up to $300K.  Eventually however, Holder was not hired, and Blago said on May 18th, 2004, that he was scrapping Holder’s probe.  Holder, however, omitted that  from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week – signed by Holder this past Sunday – five days after Blago’s arrest. 

Obama’s team commented on the matter with Cutter, the Obama team spokeswoman saying “Holder and his firm receive no compensation from the state for this preparatory work.” She added that “The 2004 press conference was not memorable because Holder’s legal work for the State of Illinois never materialized.” Such a convenient slipping of Holder’s mind on the matter and such a lie.  If you are asked if you have had any relationship with a person, I think the above qualifies.  But according to the Obama camp, since Holden wasn’t paid, then there’s no reason to talk about it and disclose it.  Gee, I’m all “fuzzy” over how factual the report from the Obama camp on the internal investigation is going to be.


My problem in all of this is with the media, is that many newspapers chose to not report important information during the campaign due to fear of repercussions of legal action and being “blackballed” out of interviews.  Why would the press actually start doing their job now?  And if Obama or any of his team members expect Fitzgerald and his prosecutors to be as accommodating as the press, they are in for a big surprise.  Just do a bit of research about Fitzgerald indicting and convicting former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby.

Now Obama has promised to release the full account of his team’s Blago ties next week, but not before December 22nd, just in time for Christmas, right?  First, let’s see if he makes good on that promise, especially considering he will conveniently be in Hawaii next week for the holiday, thus unavailable for comment and second, let’s see exactly what and how much he releases.  Time for the first real example of how transparent his Administration is going to be.  Of course, we all have to remember that the investigation was conducted by Obama’s lawyers, and not an outside independent agency.

Obama needs to realize that unless certain questions are answered in the upcoming release of the report, that this little press problem isn’t going to go away.  Notably, the question of which members of Obama’s team spoke with Blago’s staff about the Senate seat, the extent of the contact and whether anyone on the president-elect’s team knew of any illegal attempt by the governor to trade the vacated seat.  And how Obama plans to address the fact that Blago, according to the FBI tapes has been quoted to have said the following about Obama and the Senate seat:

he [Obama] has to give this motherf***er, his Senator.  F*** him.  For nothing?  F*** him!”  And even if the governor were to appoint a candidate favored by the Obama team, Blago said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

If no one in Obama’s camp knew about Blago trying to sell the seat, Blago’s comments do not make any sense.  I am very curious as to how Obama is going to wiggle his way out of that one, claiming that no one on his team knew that Blago was trying to sell the seat yet Blago’s comment seem to suggest that Obama and/or his team refused to go along with the “pay to play” scheme.  The question remains of how Blago knew that Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat and with whom Blago was speaking with.  And the person that was speaking to Blago or anyone on his Administration report failed to report this to the authorities.

It has been stated by Fitzgerald that “there’s no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the president-elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it, and that’s all I can say.”  His comment did not close the door on the possibility that Obama or someone on his staff may have known of some aspect of the governor’s demands.

What many people don’t seem to know is that Blago, according to the FBI, wanted an appointment to the Obama cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human services, a well-paying job, or huge campaign contributions as the price for naming Obama’s successor.  Blago was overheard by the FBI saying “I want to make money”, complaining he was “financially hurting.”

And as for Blago searching for a job for his wife, “Is there a pay here, with these guys, with her,” to work for  firm in Washington or New York, he is reported to have asked.  In the FBI affidavit, it is stated that Blago had been told by an adviser “the president-elect can get Rod Blagojevich’s wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the president-elect’s pick to the senate.”  No, there is no discussion of money, but a barter for positions.  That is still illegal.  I am very curious as to how that one is going to be handled.

The bottom line is that if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t get emotional over simple questions, even if you have to say, “I can’t comment now because I’ve been asked not to by the U.S. Attorneys Office.”  And if you have nothing to hide, then you don’t have a problem with an opinion on the entire matter.  And team members don’t conveniently “forget” about relationships with other people, recanting a few days later that “oh, I made a mistake.”

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