Granted a brief interview with President Obama earlier this week, KMOV’s Larry Conners used the opportunity to attack the President on…what?…His family vacations? I’m an unashamed supporter of the President, but even I have a few questions about his policies. So, if I had a few minutes in which to sit face-to-face with the man, I certainly wouldn’t use them to question the cost and frequency of the vacations he takes with his family. And neither should Conners. His out-of-right-field sneak attack seemed more like an attempt to create a sensational lead-in headline for his news show and to score points with Obama-hating viewers than a serious journalistic effort.
The President was clearly taken aback by Conners’ inappropriate and gratuitous attack focused on a non-issue. Conners actually implied that the President was inappropriately using taxpayers’ money for his personal entertainment. Here’s what he said:
“…viewers are complaining … they get frustrated and even angered when they see the First Family jetting around different vacations and so forth, sometimes maybe they think under the color of state business and that you’re out of touch, you really don’t know what they’re experiencing right now.”
And in his follow-up commentary, Conners pounced on the President for “dodging the question.” Of course he dodged it: the question didn’t deserve an answer, as it’s based on a false premise and flies in the face of the facts. Ask a serious question, and you’ll get a serious answer. This question didn’t qualify.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to see journalists asking tough questions and challenging politicians when they make false claims. They don’t do enough of that, and they let too many politicians get away with statements that are unfounded in reality. But Conners wasn’t acting as a journalist here: He was serving as a right-wing attack dog–portraying President Obama as out of touch with “real” Americans, perhaps as a way of deflecting attention from Mitt Romney’s own detachment from the day-to-day concerns of people with far less money than he has. It’s the 2012 version of swiftboating. Maybe Conners was taking this talking point on a test flight, to see if it would fly as a Republican campaign issue for the November election. Whatever he was doing, Conners’ employers at KMOV should be embarrassed.