Some press questions don’t really want answers

It only took a fraction of a second during the Eagles post-game news conference last week, but it caught my ear.

Sparring partners Peter Doocy of Fox News (left) and press secretary Jen Psaki

Star running back Miles Sanders had returned after a few weeks out with an injury, and the first question was this:

“What was it like, the last few weeks, for you, watching as the team, you know, finally started to commit  to running the ball while you were out?” There was a slight implication that the Eagles had big success running the ball without Sanders, and perhaps did not need him.

Sanders replied, “It was good. To be honest, you should know me by now and you’re not going to get me with these questions, but I’m a team guy.”

Sanders sensed the question was kind of a trap, one that might get him to criticize something about the team, thus disturbing harmony.

I think he was wrong, in this case, but it’s obvious that some reporters ask questions designed to generate heat rather than light.

One example was Fox News’ Peter Doocy asking press secretary Jen Psaki if the president spending his Thanksgiving holiday in Nantucket, at the home of a billionaire friend, while prices were rising for the middle class, sent the wrong message.

It was a phony question because where the president spends his time — Nantucket or Wilmington — would have precisely no effect on prices the middle class paid for their Thanksgiving meal. But the clip of Doocy’s question was played on Fox News for about 24 hours. 

Psaki easily batted away the question. She is used to duking it out with Doocy, and they are evenly matched. 

Doocy does ask substantial questions, as did CNN’s Jim Acosta of President Donald J. Trump, but that reporter spent most of his time goading the 45th president.

Trump was treated with hostility as obvious as the Capitol dome by most of the D.C. press, not surprising since the majority of big city journalists lean left, as studies have shown.

If you watch the news conferences as I do occasionally, it’s easy to detect who is serious and who is a poseur.

Presidential news conferences are important, but I think the televised post-game stand-ups are a farce.

If the team loses, the coach takes it on himself, the quarterback says they have to play better, the star back says they have to focus, the star receiver says they have to stop beating themselves with penalties.

It is totally predictable, and the players are wise to reporters tricks and are usually far more guarded facing the cameras than they would be facing a sole reporter with a notepad in front of the player’s locker. (Still the best way to get a story.)

9 thoughts on “Some press questions don’t really want answers”

  1. Remember the song: “I can do anything better than you. No, you can’t. Yes, I can…. That is what I think of when I watch these facades of intellectual ping-pong. Your points are a good overview of just what the motives are from both sides. Those like yourself who have a knowledge of what the press should seek to report to their readers or viewers should see but these press conferences as being bland and certainly of very little value to the American public. Yes, they are important to know just what activity our Government is involved in and how it affects the citizens of our country but maybe the taxpayers should have the right to submit written questions now and then to break the hand holding relationship between the two sides that appear more friendly and not very inquisitive.

      1. What theory is that? I was under the impression that the press represented the people who owned the press.

        1. You are referencing the quote that the free press belongs to those who own the press.
          The First Amendment creates protection for the press as a representative of the people.
          It fulfills that role more than than not, in my opinion.
          And the press was nakedly partisan when the Founders penned the protection.

  2. Press question to Donald Trump: “Do you care to comment on the accusation you worship Satan and have orgies in the White House?

    Press question to Joe Biden: “What is your favorite flavor of water ice?”

    Half the time I think that White House press conferences are scripted. When Trump took the press conference to the helicopter pad, the truth was spoken to anyone who was listening.

  4. Stu,
    This is just an excerpt on the media’s part, from Victor David Hanson’s latest:

    Conservatives have always been amused by the liberal biases of the old network news and big-city print media. But they grudgingly admitted that many liberal journalists of the last century were mostly professionals. News divisions mostly reported the news rather than simply made it up.

    Not so now with Big Tech and 21st-century “woke” journalism. Few reporters have yet offered apologies for helping hatch and spread the Russian collusion hoax that paralyzed the country for three years.

    Few have admitted culpability for reporting as fact the various fantasies surrounding the Duke Lacrosse team’s prosecution or the Covington Catholic kids deception.

    Many in the media ran uncritically with the Jussie Smollett concoction and the “hands-up-don’t shoot” Ferguson distortions. Journalists promulgated misinformation about the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin encounter, and doctored photos and edited tapes.

    They invented the myth of the supposedly brilliant — but now utterly disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — as well as the “Russian disinformation” yarn that allegedly accounted for the missing Hunter Biden laptop.

    Most recently, reporters spread serial untruths surrounding the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

    For much of 2020 to even suggest that the Wuhan Institute of Virology may have played a role in the birth and spread of the COVID-19 earned media derision.

    Few reporters suggested that federal health agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases might be disseminating contradictory or even inaccurate information about the pandemic. To believe this was happening instead earned condemnation in the media as if one were some conspiracy theorist or nut.

    1. This is far too broad and vague. He mixes “many” with “some” with “a few,” and reporters with commentators and treats MSNBC as if it were the NYTimes.
      There have been glaring failures in the print press, I have pointed to a few, but Davis neglects to mention the many stories the press gets right.

Comments are closed.