WashPost Reporter: Shut Up About The Press and Stop Playing Media Critic, Rand Paul

April 9th, 2015 10:36 PM

We had an outbreak in mid-week of reporters lecturing Rand Paul that he doesn’t know how to run for president if he’s going to tell reporters how to do their job. See the circular nature of this conundrum? Reporters are going to tell presidential candidates how to do their job, which is to never tell reporters how to do theirs.

Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza seems unaware how this looked in a blog post headlined "Rand Paul’s problem with female interviewers just cropped up again." It may be right to suggest Paul fighting with journalists might lead to damaging himself with voters as thin-skinned and sour-faced.

But what Cillizza and his fellow liberal lecturers refuse to confront is how this battling reporters is a larger Republican problem. Cilizza began by noting Paul fought with two female reporters (ahem, from the Obama-loving Comcast family of networks, NBC and CNBC):

[A]t some level, these two episodes suggest that Paul seems to misunderstand the nature of running for president. It is not a college lecture class where you talk and other people listen and take notes. It is an active back and forth between the candidate, voters and, yes, the media. And, that means that sometimes you get asked things you think are (a) stupid, (b) unfair or, often, both.

But on the very same morning as Sen. Paul was battling NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on alleged foreign-policy flip-flops, President Obama was interviewed by the medical reporters of ABC, CBS, and NBC. All of them acted like they were in a lecture class listening to Obama talk and they were sent to take notes. (Perhaps Cilizza would be more productive if he would tell his fellow journalists how to do their jobs.)

ABC's Dr. Richard Besser began with Obama’s preferred topic of climate change, then turned to this less-than-feisty inquiry: “The First Lady has taken big action in terms of getting people moving. What do you think of her moves on 'Uptown Funk'?"

Cillizza’s lecture continued:

But as we noted when we wrote about Scott Walker's terrible answer on a question about President Obama's Christianity, the goal of a candidate for president is to be a candidate for president, not a media critic. Don't like the question? Choose not to answer it diplomatically rather than being openly dismissive (Paul) or launching into some broad riff on the problems of the press (Walker).

That seems awfully convenient. It also avoids what many conservatives pointed out: Obama has routinely complained about Fox News and talk radio treatment, so he's often a media critic, too. Cillizza is saying that Walker is apparently not allowed to say The Washington Post asked him a gotcha question about Obama’s Christianity. Don't point out the Post won't ask Obama a gotcha question about anything.

Journalists get to spend their days evaluating politicians, but the smart politicians never evaluate journalists out loud. This is exactly why many Americans find journalists arrogant and unable to accept criticism – the very charge Cillizza is lobbing against Paul.