July 23, 2009

The Pathology Report on Obama's "Comatose" Health Care Presser

Obama health presser1.jpg Obama Health presser 2.jpg

Responding to Digby’s take on last night’s press conference, one of her commenters, Jim, had this to offer:

It’s really un-friggin-believable that the press is blaming Obama tonight for their own bad press conference. Since THEY were the ones asking the questions, why didn’t they ask him what they wanted him to talk about? Obama sketched out a general picture of what he was after, yet almost NONE of them asked about any of the details– especially the public option– it was like they didn’t—what– maybe care?

At first, I found it odd — and very out of character, actually — that Getty Images would have included the second photo above in its edit. The commenter, however, brought into focus the feeling I had watching the press from the get-go. Whereas the inclination following this all-too-listless exercise was to conclude that Obama was ponderous (or doing a number), Obama — if you were really watching him — was energized, cool and impressively non-didactic in front of a press corps that mostly sat there like parched and wilted flowers. If by no other example, this “group affect” was blatantly demonstrated by the anesthetized reporters finally springing to life near the end of the session as soon as (crime! race! scandal!) the Gates incident came up.

Paying more respect to what, on first pass, seemed like a cheap shot-of-a-photo, the two-headed interpretation here is that either the media wasn’t all that interested in probing the substance and complexity of Obama’s presentation — or Obama’s emphasis on policy-over-politics left others dazed and confused.

(Update: Although I originally saw the photos above on the Getty Images website, it has come to my attention that the photo discussed above comes from the AFP edit of the press conference. AFP maintains its own staff of photographers and editors who make independent editorial choices separate from the Getty staff at such events. I appreciate the clarification and apologize for any misunderstanding.)

(image: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images. second caption: Two front row reporters listen as US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on health care during a prime-time press conference from the East Room of the White House July 22, 2009, in Washington, DC. Obama vowed to push affordable healthcare reform through this year and keep it from swelling the US deficit in a fresh bid to convince Americans to back his ambitious plan.)

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Michael Shaw
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