I’m on All Things Considered tonight to talk about your reaction to Barack Obama’s first news conference. So, well, please have one, and post it below. The more insightful, the better your odds of being part of radio history.
1:31 p.m. – Again, Obama will be speaking on a set full of American flags. What does that mean? Are a dozen American flags more patriotic than one? We’re told there’s a delay in the start of the news conference.
The set is reminiscent of the set in Denver:
1:39 p.m. – A reader sends a quite-correct e-mail. Why are NPR announces referring to him as Mr. Obama? The correct way to identify him is still Senator Obama.
1:50 p.m. – Still waiting. “Clinton time” returns to Washington. A commenter asks what’s the seal above the sign on the podium?
1:51 p.m. – Robert Reich is on the podium. So is Robert Rubin and John Summers are there, too. It really is the Clinton administration.
We’ve lost 1.2 million jobs this year. Tens of millions of families are struggling to pay the bills. It’s an urgent reminder we’re facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime. Obama stresses the President Bush is still in charge.
1:54 p.m. He says he’ll take the issue “head on” after he becomes president. He calls for a plan for the middle class. An urgent priority is an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. A fiscal stimulus plan is long overdue. Also have to address spreading economic crisis — small businesses unable to meet payroll, and tax increases.
The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. Would like to see the administration accelerate retooling of manufacturing. Wants transition team to work on additional measures for more fuel efficient cars.
Third, review of administration’s actions to make sure we’re not rewarding CEOs. Wants HUD to use authority it already has to help people stay in their homes.
Says he doesn’t underestimate the enormity of the task ahead. The choices we make will be difficult. It won’t be quick or easy to dig “ourselves out of the hole that we’re in. But America is a strong and resilient country and we will succeed if we put aside partisanship and politics.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: What can you do in the first 100 days?
A: We’ve taken some action so far, more will be needed. The transition team will be monitoring what happens. We are going to need a stimulus package passed before or after inauguration. Going to have to focus on jobs because it impacts consumer confidence. Will be important to provide assistance to state and local governments.
Q: Are you confident you can pass stimulus package
I want to see one sooner rather than later. If it doesn’t get done in lame duck session, it’ll be the first thing to get done as president of the United States.
Q: Have you responded to president of Iran’s congratulations?
A: I am aware the letter was sent. Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.
Q: When you disagree with decisions President Bush makes, will you defer?
A; President Bush invited me to meet with him on Monday. I’m sure that in addition to taking the tour of the White House there will be a substantive conversation. I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and the understanding that the president and leaders of Congress understand the situation and want to get things done. There are differences, even among people of the same party. The critical tone that has to be struck is the American people need help, this economy is in bad shape, and we have just created one of the longest election cycles in recorded history. Now’s a good time to set politics aside and think practically about what’s needed.
Q: Do you need to move quickly to name treasury secretary and secretary of state?
A; When there’s an announcement to be made, we’ll make it. (Blog: Who might be in Obama’s cabinet)
Linda Wertheimer interrupts broadcast to tell us we’re listening to Barack Obama. It was when a local reporter asked about the governor naming a successor to Obama. That’s a concern outside the Beltway, so it’s not a concern of Linda’s.
Q: What kind of dog are you going to buy, and public/private school for daughters?
A: I’ve talked to former presidents and read Lincoln’s writings. Re: Dog.This is a major issue that’s generated more interest on our Web site than anything (Bob: Oh brother). One daughter is allergic to dogs so it has to be hypoallergenic, but our preference is it needs to be a shelter dog. A mutt… like me.
Schools: Michele will be scouting out some schools.
Q: What’s your view of American intelligence? Has anything you’ve heard given you pause about anything you’ve talked about on the campaign trail?
A: If there was something I heard, I couldn’t tell you. Our intelligence process can always improve; it has gotten better.
Q: Do you still intend to seek tax increases on upper-income Americans?
A: Restates campaign stump speech. “My priority is going to be, ‘how to grow the economy.'” Says he still thinks it’s the right plan but clearly leaves the door open to bag the tax increase.
Says that’s it and says “thanks a lot, guys.” And as long as we’re criticizing NPR for its incorrect use of language, I’ll admit that it drives me crazy when people refer to a group of people that includes women as “guys.”
There it is, what do you think?
Update 2:50 p.m. – My appearance on All Things Considered has been canceled because the comments aren’t up to what they want to hear and they’re not interested in my observations. But here is my observation. Are America’s newsrooms up to the challenge of covering a president they so obviously love? There’s a certain “teen dance” vibe I see when reporters watch Obama. After today’s news conference, Twitter, for example, was all, ummm… atwitter about the “mutt” comment and about how smooth Obama was and how fun he is to listen to. OK, I get that. But what about what he said in terms of substance? He didn’t offer much, but that crack in the door he presented on his economic plan is the kind of thing newsies would drive a truck through under the Bush administration.
There is a certain honeymoon with an incoming president, to be sure. But from the start, here, it’s not looking good for the willingness to ask — let alone later discuss — tough questions.
The sixth question at the first news conference asked of the new leader of the free world, on a day when the economic news was the worst yet…. was about a dog. It fairly boggles the mind.
3:10 p.m. This advisory just in from Washington:
LETTERS — Most listener comments about yesterday’s show were about one of the more SERIOUS stories: speculation about the Obama family dog! Robert Siegel and Michele Norris read from listeners e-mails. (02:15)
Most? Suddenly, our economic woes seem the least of the nation’s problems. And I’m reminded of how I fell in love one morning with a president because he went to the White House kitchen and toasted his own English muffin. Gerald Ford.
4:42 p.m. Just did my “rant” with Mary Lucia of the Current (I can still get on the radio somewhere!).
Reactions pouring in. OK,
His rant about the press conference is right on the money. See if you can find a song about fake, superficial people, or people willingly being swindled. I’d suggest “Liar” by Rollins Band but Jill Riley played it last night.
Long-time Current fan, first time Bob Collins fan,
Dave (Last name withheld)
I listened to you talk about your rant today about the fawning press and the serious issues that we have going on in our country right now. I couldn’t agree with you more! Keep doing what you’re doing, we need people like you around.
Thanks for solid opinions. – Laura.
Opinions? Shhhhh. They’re “observations.”
Please let him know that there still are people out there who want smart news. That’s why I listen to 89.3 The Current!
I love what you all are doing there. Keep up the fantastic work.
I feel consensus building. Not just any consensus, bipartisan consensus. How quickly can you all get through school and get jobs in journalism? I’m serious here: We’re surrounded by reporters asking questions about dogs and TV networks who send reporters out to report from places where nothing is happening, just to present the “feel” of them being “out there” and then electronically “beam them” back in the studio.
Whatever you think is wrong with the news media and news consumer appetite, seriously, it’s much worse. And there’s no Daily Show on Friday to get that point across tonight.
6:41 p.m.: From AP:
President-elect Obama has called Nancy Reagan to apologize for joking that she held seances in the White House. At a news conference Friday, Obama said he had spoken with all the living presidents. Then he smiled and said he didn’t want to get into a “Nancy Reagan thing” about doing seances. The former first lady had consulted with astrologers during her husband’s presidency. But she did not hold conversations with the dead.
Well, great, then. The news conference to apology ratio is now at 1:1.