Sen. Mitch McConnell held a “press conference” today in which he called for — wait for it — the repeal of Obamacare, “root and branch.” Major breaking news, I know. However, unlike recent campaign events, he did not walk away from reporters and refuse to even look at them as they asked him questions. (see below)
Instead, McConnell opened the floor for questions. But before he did so, he let the journalists present know that if they dared to ask a question that wasn’t about his pre-approved topic, they were out of luck.
“I’m probably not going to be answering questions about anything else, but I’m happy to respond to questions about Obamacare,” McConnell said. “As some of you have complained from time to time that I don’t do a stake out after every event and I’m not going to do a stake out after every event because as you can imagine I prefer the news of that day to be what I’d like for it to be rather than what you all may be interested in pursuing.”
Yes, the fourth estate — with their rude questions that dare to shine a light on the views of those who hold and seek power in order to keep the voters well-informed — are practically stalkers. Daring to cover photo ops that McConnell promotes and then expecting him to answer questions off the cuff about topics that he may well prefer not to talk about… such nastiness! If the media would just stop being so combative, perhaps they’d get more respect. In fact, maybe the McConnell campaign could just hand out the questions to the press that they want asked, so they can just read them out? Even better, his staffers could just hand out a copy or script of what we should report verbatim — sort of like how Rand Paul writes speeches. If reporters were wise enough to comply with this directive, just think of the access they could get in return! It’s clearly a win, win situation, no?
Team Mitch has accused Alison Lundergan Grimes of ducking media questions, and for the most part they’ve been right. Grimes waited until this past weekend to do her first sit down interview with a Kentucky reporter, and at her events she rarely takes more than five questions at a time, with her answers often being vague and canned. It’s time for Grimes to sit down with Kentucky media outlets and do comprehensive interviews with reporters… in fact, it’s well past that time. And no, Elle asking about her fashion sense doesn’t count.
But I’m afraid that Team Mitch throwing those sorts of barbs at Grimes — when he snubs questions and declares that he’ll only answer questions on pre-approved topics — is the very height of hypocrisy. And at least Grimes never condescendingly lectured the media about what they could and couldn’t ask her.
McConnell and Grimes both assume that hiding from uncomfortable questions is a savvy political tactic to protect them from potential gaffes that would be used against them. And they may very well be correct, at least for now. But eventually you’ll just look like a coward with something to hide. And while they both may think it’s a winning strategy, the voting public that is deprived a full vetting of their elected officials and candidates is most definitely losing.
***** UPDATE *****
Unlike the Herald Leader and Courier-Journal’s stenography on McConnell’s “press conference,” Ryan Alessi at cn2 joins Phillip Bailey of WFPL in reporting McConnell’s condescending marching orders to the press, as well as his completely evasive answers on the topic he supposedly wanted to shed so much light on: