The lost art of reporters asking tough questions

Far too often, journalists act as stenographers, dutifully reporting bilge that professional spokespersons distribute that everyone knows to be nonsense.

The art of asking a tough question is declining. But we note with admiration the pluck of Associated Press reporter Matt Lee who did a double-take when the Secretary of State John Kerry patted the Obama administration on the back for its courage in handling the Syrian intervention issue:

“I don’t understand why he is so full-throatedly in favor of this,” Lee said. “He over the weekend said the president was acting courageously by taking this to Congress, and I don’t understand what is courageous about asking permission for something that you say you don’t need and to do what you believe to be the right thing not just morally but in general.

“Can you explain why this is a courageous move, and why the secretary would call it a courageous move?”

Unfortunately, in two stories that Lee has filed with his employer since the State Department briefing, there was nothing about the exchange or the Kerry assessment of the president’s actions as “courageous.”