I watched President Obama’s press conference from the APEC meeting in Hawaii last night live on television. Obama only took six questions, but a couple of them were really bad. Time has posted a transcript here; video is posted here. After calling on AP reporter Ben Feller, Obama called on CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian. Lothian’s question was the worst of the lot (it’s at 10:00 of the video):
Last night at the Republican debate, some of the hopefuls — they hope to get your job — they defended the practice of waterboarding, which is a practice that you banned in 2009. Herman Cain said, “I don’t see that as torture.” Michelle Bachmann said that it’s “very effective.”
So I’m wondering if you think that they’re uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?
Before launching into his answer, Obama observed to general hilarity: “That’s a multiple-choice question, isn’t it?” In his answer, Obama more or less took “All of the above.” In the annals of tankdom, has a major media White House correspondent ever asked a president a question quite like Lothian’s?
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler awards one to four Pinnochios to politicians he judges guilty of shading the truth. Following Kessler’s example, I’m awarding Lothian four Lewinskys for his performance as a member of the Obamamania media yesterday. We should have thought of some form of recognition like this in 2008 and 2009, when we could have paid our respects to David Brooks, Chris Matthews, and Evan Thomas, for example, but here is the first award in what should prove to be a continuing series. Dan Lothian, this one’s for you.