Social media lit up with approval Friday after President Barack Obama took questions from only female reporters at his year-end press conference.
But according to Fox News’ resident media critic Howard Kurtz, the women blew the opportunity to confront the President on important political developments, like the thaw in relations with Cuba, by asking a bunch of softball questions.
“Obama skated in a year-end news conference, easily handling questions that were bland, tentative or rambling,” Kurtz wrote in a column published Monday.
The media critic took pains to say that the easy-going presser, as he perceived it, was unrelated to the “unusual move of fielding questions only from female reporters.” But nevertheless, he wrote that the eight female print and radio reporters whom Obama called on failed to frame their questions in such a way that forced the President to give substantive answers.
“You would have no idea from watching that presser that Obama had taken hugely controversial unilateral action on Cuba, immigration and climate change–or that his administration had been plunged into a debate about torture by a Senate report on CIA interrogations, which wasn’t mentioned at all,” he wrote.
“I’m not saying the press has to be prosecutorial toward the president,” Kurtz added. “But a full-dress news conference is a rare chance to ask aggressive questions that are honed to knock the commander-in-chief off his talking points.”
The reporters most well-positioned to do so, according to Kurtz, are the front-row TV correspondents that Obama skipped over on Friday: ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Fox’s Ed Henry and CBS’ Major Garrett. Those reporters “tend to ask more confrontational and, yes, theatrical questions,” he wrote.
Kurtz didn’t say whether he considered asking about the President’s New Year’s resolutions or whether he’d smoke a Cuban cigar — both shouted out by male reporters after the presser ended — to be softball questions.