President-elect Barack Obama is frustrated with the increasing level of media scrutiny of his daily words and deeds, according to an article in the Politico this morning. In recent weeks, he has on a couple of occasions given the slip to the group of reporters who travel with him wherever he goes.
Obama seems to have been pursuing private moments with his family during these instances (getting a treat with his girls, for example) and that’s something I completely understand. I think it would be quite difficult to have not only your political staff and now a 24-7 security-detail, but a pool of inquiring reporters traveling with you everywhere, watching just about everything you do.
However, what the Politico does not touch on (at least in this piece) is Obama’s apparent frustration with the media in regards to lines of questioning on legitimate policy or political issues. Given his meteoric rise from state legislator to freshman US Senator to President-elect, Obama faced a major adjustment in the amount of media he had to deal with. More significantly, Obama enjoyed fawning media coverage from a press corps that all but abdicated a responsibility of objectivity in its treatment of his candidacy. So when he gets the tough questions – on those occasions his team actually allows the press to ask him questions – he either doesn’t answer them, or answers only a few of them before shutting down a press conference.
While Obama does seem to be chafing “as the bubble closes in,” the important thing is not whether he allows journalists to watch him eat ice cream with his daughters (this he clearly deserves), but whether he will field questions in those moments they choose to act as journalists and seek to report the news to the people who elected him to serve.