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