January 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama’s press room visit: Was substantive question unfair?


President Barack Obama took an impromptu tour of the White House press work area yesterday. The president made the surprise visit on his second full day in office. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press room yesterday he was asked how he justifies his new policy banning lobbyists in his administration when his pick for Deputy Secretary of Defense lobbied for Raytheon.

President Obama said he just came to visit and this is what happens. He added that he wouldn't be able to stop around informally to visit if he gets grilled every time.

When the reporter from Politico pressed further the President got serious and, by some accounts, sounded irritated. He said, "We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys - that's all I was trying to do."

During the 10-minute visit, President Obama was also asked if he's been able to work out or play basketball. And the President asked some questions of his own about who sits where and so on, as he checked out reporters' offices, shook hands with members of the press corps and noted how small the space is.

Here’s my question to you: Was it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Joe from Delaware writes:
The question was fair. Talk is cheap. He needs to walk the walk.

Liz frpm Towson, Maryland writes:
It wasn't unfair, but it was inappropriate for the reporter to push Obama for a response. It’s one thing to ask a question, but it's another to be rude to the President. Obama is also correct that there's a time and a place for pressing for answers, and a time and a place for cordial greeting.

Kevin from Chester Springs, Pennsylvania writes:
Give the guy a break already. He went down to say "Hi", shake hands and try to set the stage for a new kind of presidency. I am quite frankly tired of this new paparazzi attitude of shoving questions in his face just like cameras. He's the President of the United States for goodness sake. Show some respect.

Jim from North Carolina writes:
Why not? Sunlight, transparency, accountability, etc. His rules.

Rick from Davis, California writes:
It's never unfair to ask the president a substantive question. It is sort of silly to expect a substantive answer in an informal setting.

Jay from Brownwood, Texas writes:
No, it wasn't unfair. It is clear that President Obama just wanted his visit to be a publicity shot showing he will be accessible to the press and the American people. But what good is accessibility if he is unwilling to answer the important questions that we want answers to?

Jim from El Paso, Texas writes:
Sure it was Jack but what do you expect from press people? They have no sense. You are not included in that bunch.

soundoff (718 Responses)
  1. Scott, Wichita

    He's the President, that's his job. It will be interesting to hear what the Obamabots think about this after claiming Chelsea Clinton had to answer questions...

    January 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  2. Barbara - NC

    People in the press and news channels on tv think they have all the rights in this country.

    Tell them to take some responsibility for all the divisiveness and hate they stir up with their irrational actions and "reports".

    January 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  3. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    No it is not unfair to ask. It is up to the President if he wants to answer that question at the time it was asked. He can say for whatever the reason that at this time the question is not relivent and should be brought up again at another time and it will be answered at that time.
    I do not think this President is afraid to answer any question.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  4. Jerry from Monroe Co., WV

    No, nor was it inappropriate for him to decline to answer. Were it a formal news conference, the question would have been asked and answered. End of story.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    It is a reporter's job to ask substantive questions. It is an elected official's job to be prepared to answer them. To quote Harry Truman, "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."

    January 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Ted, MN

    Jack, . . . the media seems to Have such cockamamy delusions that they are going to somehow "trip" President Obama up by asking stupid "gotcha" questions, which only makes them appear to have gone to
    Journalism school on Sesame Street. They should stick to the issues
    of relevancy and then just maybe they will survive his far superior
    cleverness and ability to see through and counter attack media BS.

    Thank you very much.


    January 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  7. Gina in Racine, Wi

    Of course it was.....but President Obama took care of it in that "style" we all love.

    There is a new President in town....his name is Barack Obama.....and he is running the show,.....not the Press.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  8. Peter Kumpitch

    You, the media, should refer to our newly elected President as President Obama, not'Obama'. Certianly he has earned that title and deserves that respect.Sincerely, Dr.Peter, Virgin Islands

    January 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Judie from St. Augustine, Fl

    Unfair no, tacky yes.
    St. Augustine, Fl

    January 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  10. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Yes it was, Jack. The press once again showed they care about nothing but trying to buy headlines andin do so make fools of theirselves.
    It showed no respect for our President and the purpose of the
    There are times for questions and times to behave with integrity.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  11. Frank from Peterborough

    Not at all as Obama is an astute politician and leader who must expect these types of questions and be prepared to answer them at any given time.

    The bottom line is if Obama doesn't want to answer impromtu questions then he should hide at a ranch in Crawford or at an undisclosed location just like Bush and Cheney did during their terms.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  12. Terry from North Carolina

    Barack Obama works for us. I dont believe it is unfair to ask him anything at any time he makes himself available.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Richard Green


    Please. Let's not discourage the White House Press Corp from asking substantive questions. We could have used a lot more of those during the Bush years.

    Rich Green
    San Clemente, Cal.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  14. L.M.,Arizona

    No it was not unfair but don't blame him if there are no more informal visits to the press room.


    January 23, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  15. Les Oklahoma

    I would not say it was fair but if I was President I would have not answered it just as he did. The got you stuff is not informing anyone of anything.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Lynette

    No, the reporter was just doing their job. Our President needs to learn that the media is not his friend. Remember Jimmy the Greek? Getting too comfortable with the press is career Suicide.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  17. Tina (Texas

    If you don't want questions asked do go to the press room. Reporters are just doing their jobs.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  18. Simpliticus

    Any question offered by the Press Corp should always be deemed as substantive or why would any question be asked in the first place?. If by"substantive" do you mean something that Bush wouldn't have answered, would cause alarm, or simply be ignored? Being in the shadows of the Bush administration when no substantive questions were answered or engaged, it may be surprising that Obama will engage any such questions at all or that a cogent response would ensue(Thank God)!. Honesty in government is a nice change from the secretive, unanswerable, or worse, prudently dishonest replies from the Bush administration. I think that it is nice to have an open debate in a more honest environment which journalists from David Gregory on will finally attest. And we are finding that journalists were the most targeted individuals in the FISA debacle!

    January 23, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  19. Gigi in Alabama

    Since when has the press given a thought of whether a question is fair or not? You look for a scoop at every opportunity.

    I thought some of the questions asked of the press secretary was out of line . . . but then maybe I am being over sensitive since he is a fellow Alabamian.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  20. KarenB, Florida

    He's continuosly talked about open, no secrets, and all that jazz...so you'd think any questions should be ok at any time.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  21. karen-phoenix

    YES!!! He will have a Press Conference! What happened to the Press's manners? He came to say HI and be friendly and he was "pounced" upon!!! Manners Press, Manners!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  22. Kerry Diehl

    Not anymore unfair or different than if it had been at an "informal visit" with Bush. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander!

    To me unfair is when the media is blatently biased in their opinions and reporting in favor of one pary over another – THIS IS NOT NEWS and is deemed as such by the majority of us.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  23. Don in Fort Gratiot MI

    The man most wanted by media in the entire country walks into a press room and expects what? You know someone is going to ask him something that was unfair. (Fox News for instance)

    January 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  24. Justin, Alexandria

    Unfair or not, President Obama properly refused to answer the question, and Politico's Jonathan Martin, who asked the question, has been acting like a spoiled child in his "reporting" of the encounter. It is remarkable how juvenile the press can be. Any preschooler knows that if one person gets a turn, everyone gets a turn. President Obama wasn't taking any substantive questions, from anyone. Perhaps Mr. Martin and the right-wing media would understand that concept better if every time they appeared in public they were beset by people who felt that a public appearance is tantamount to an open invitation to come over and start questioning them.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  25. Annie Naples FL

    Yes. The press is getting way too intrusive and nervy these days. They think they are entitled to way too much in the way of answers. Since when do Presidents visiting a press room in an informal setting owe the press anything but a quick hello?

    January 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  26. steve in Florida

    Unbecoming is more fitting. Not an unfair question, by any means. In the wrong venue and out of the context of the moment, by all means. Rather than join the others in the room in a refreshing, casual, off-the-clock, let's-get-to-know-each-other moment offered up by Obama, the reporter chose to "jump from behind the bushes" and yell "a-ha."
    Very inappropriate. And I expect Obama will go out of his way to make sure he personally answers that reporter eye to eye, at a later date in the appropriate venue. We won't be having any "Helen Thomas" scenarios and certainly won't be plagued with any "Jeff Gannon's" with this president.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  27. Diane, Barneveld, NY


    January 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  28. don in naples, florida

    bush was always asked substantive questions; and he was able to dance around them with a lot of ideological fluff rhetoric– words that sounded good but really didn't mean anything. (good, bad, right, wrong, success, freedom, mission acomplished–(who knew what mission he meant), hero, patriotism, ) all these words sound really good but are really open for interpretation. Obama should have taken a play out for the G.W. playbook. Heck, hire me and i will be able to answer questions in such a vague but aesthetically pleasing manner.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  29. Mertis


    I don't know about unfair but if he finds that he can't come in the room without being grilled everytime, my guess is, he will stop coming in unless its planned and orchestrated.

    Is that what we want again???

    January 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  30. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    Jack, President Obama walked into the mouth of the lion when he visited the White House press room. For him not to expect substantive questions would be foolhardy. Freedom of the Press has to be an absolute, and if we decide there are only ‘moments’ the media can ask questions, then that chips way at the very freedoms we all enjoy.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  31. charles, bronx new york

    do you say the white house press room? i believe each time an elected or high ranked official wals in there he should come prepared because questions can be directed to any direction at any time if need be. we shouldn't be soft on obama because we were not on bush. same level of treatment for both men.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  32. Hope M. Madisonville, KY

    These reporters need to cover something else if they can't respect the President in a situation like this one. I was watching the White House press conference today and I thought many of the reporters were rude and were asking questions that were not appropriate at this time in the early days of the Obama administration. They need to wait and see what is rolled out before trying to get ahead of things. There are too many pressing matters for this nation right now for the President to handle without more pressure from dumb reporters. The reporters are trying to "play gotcha" when there's nothing to get yet.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  33. george c paree

    How his visit to pressroom can be such a big deal is behond my understanding You press types havent any ideal of you own so you resort too mindless bull

    January 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  34. Cat West

    Depends: Being president he should answer questions. Given that there is a time and place for questions, this was a bit like asking a doctor at a mixer to give a diagnosis or examine a body part.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  35. Pat,Lexington, Ky.

    No, it was not unfair. It was typical press response to being close enough for the President to hear a question. Obama will probably learn not to just stop by the press room if he doesn't want to have questions asked, and maybe the press learned to save questions for official press conferences. (I doubt it!) :))

    January 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: It was inappropriate----but when a drop of blood hits the water---the media sharks and bottom dwellers will attackr. It was an informal and courtesy call by the President-–the media sharks took advantage-–if I were the President-–I would have asked them to (explextive) leave---or he should have brought a bucket of "chum" as a precautionary measure.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  37. Buck J

    Why should not a question be aske? Obama is the employee of the American People. He's hypocritical just like most politicians.
    He is no different than most politicians and there will be no change folks. We will go backwards as a nation however.
    Joan B

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  38. Anne/Seattle

    I don't think it's a matter of fair or unfair. But once Obama made it clear the nature of his visit, I hope reporters respect the President's right to have some informal time with reporters without being grilled. It's clear to me Obama wants there to be a friendly atmosphere in the White House and with reporters. Reporters may not be used to someone who rises above the fray to make a congenial atmosphere, but let's hope they get it. This is a different type of man in the presidential role.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  39. Rick Medina,OH


    It was not a mistake to 'ask.' That is what journalists do. But, the reporter from Politico probably didn't help himself or his organization by pressing, once the President made clear the limited purpose of his visit.

    Rick S

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  40. Dave from Orlando

    Given the circumstances the reporter should have just held his tongue. I know it’s his job to probe and hound politicians relentlessly (unless the politician is Bush or Cheney) but in this case he should have used his head and allowed the new president room to get to know the press room people. Some reporters are so stupid it’s painful.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  41. Ann from S.C.

    It was a fair question. President Obama's response was also fair. Isn't this how people learn to get along with each other?

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  42. Lynn, Boise, ID

    No, I don't think it was unfair to ask the question because that's what reporters do, and the President knows it. It wasn't unfair for him to say he wasn't going to answer it and lay down some ground rules, either because that's what Presidents do and reporters know it.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  43. T. Piper

    No, asking the question wasn't unfair. President Obama cannot expect to "flip a switch" from President Mode to Casual Barry Mode at any time. He must expect to be asked tough questions 24 hours a day. He's THE PRESIDENT. And, for Pete's sake, he was in the press room, surrounded by reporters who were practicing their craft!

    January 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  44. Jackie in Dallas

    Yes, it was unfair. There is a time and a place for substantive questions, and that is at a press conference. If the press wants open and fair access to the President, they've got to be willing to abide by the rules. Using a casual social occasion to ask policy questions is out of place.

    Why, some may ask, should the press not grill the President any time that they want to? Because discussing policy and decisions made by the administration should be done before representatives of the entire press corps, not just one or a couple of press members trying to grab an exclusive. You get exclusives when you dish on scandals by pop singers or stars, or find out serious issues by investigative reporting. If you start hounding the President, however, you are likely to find yourself replaced on the White House beat by someone who knows how to play by the rules. President Obama seems to be a fair man, and definitely should be questioned, respectfully, by the media on policies and decisions, but the press doesn't have to act like the worst type of paparrazzi to pull a fast one over on their competition or on the President.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  45. Larry D.


    I think Obama is loving his 1st term as president the press will follow him wherever he goes questions are questions he will answer the ones he feels are worth answering. He is exploring the white house remember the white house is one big castle he has alot on his mind and his agenda is huge. This president will have alot of agression towards him because he is trying his best to reverse the bush policies and satisfy the american people, He is a swift mover and its necessary because our country is in turmoil and we got 3 wars going on.

    Larry D.

    Albany ny

    January 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  46. Sandra fromTexas

    Yes, I believe it was for this set of circumstances. He is correct in saying that is what press conferences are for.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  47. Steve of Hohenwald TN.

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  48. Tim

    I wouldn't say it was unfair. Maybe uncouth? I find it a little unnerving, after watching the Press Corps play softball with Bush for eight years, that they are deciding now to actually be journalists.

    Tim Dickson
    Houston, TX

    January 23, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  49. HD Taylor - Arizona

    In the grand scheme of things, It really does not matter.

    HD in Phoenix, AZ

    January 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  50. Lois Canada

    It's not unfair at all, the way he lashed out was! A good reporter will take every opportunity to ask the hard questions and build their career around it! I guess Hillary wasn't hard enough on him in the primary, a truly grand politician can answer with a smile and a witty response!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  51. Rod from Allentown PA

    It is all about change. He wants to be transparent, then let them ask away. He should not mind this at all. Change we can live with; KEEP THE CHANGE.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  52. Nuwan

    It is not unfair to ask questions. But the President has every right not to answere them too.

    Nuwan from Houston, TX

    January 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  53. David in San Diego

    Of course it wasn't unfair. It would be unfair, however, to fault him or wave the "transparency" card in his face if he responded as he did: no questions here, now.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  54. Aaron from IL

    For Obama to expect reporters to NOT ask substantive questions when given the opportunity is just naive. Then to top it off Obama's comment about limiting access if he's going to get "grilled" when he stops by isn't in line with a new "transparent" administration either.

    Fair and reasonable questions aren't exactly "grilling" someone.

    Given that I have yet to hear a good answer for how a defense lobbyist as Deputy Secretary of Defense, I applaud the reporter for trying to get to the bottom of this apparent hypocrisy.

    After 8 years it's about time the Media feel that they can question the administration on real issues without fear of losing access. Hopefully it will remain that way.

    But maybe I'm wrong, Jack. Perhaps it would have been a far better use of the opportunity to ask the President how he likes the new PDA. Lord knows Wolf would have asked! He sure talked enough about it yesterday. 😉

    January 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  55. Diane A.

    Hi Jack , Yes it was unfair indeed . As President Obama said " I just want to meet you guys !!" Now that's a Class ACT in my book .
    DianeMarie, Cape Breton Island , Canada .

    January 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  56. carson

    i think it's unfair.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  57. Annie, Atlanta

    Not at all. If he's going to make policy as he breaks policy, we have the right to know why. It was a good question. He did, after all, make an issue of transparency and the buck stopping with him.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  58. andrew, columbus oh

    no jack, that is their job, its about time they remembered that.

    as our elected official, our employee, its his job to answer. i'd say he failed.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  59. Philip from Toronto

    The questioning was out of line, but you have to understand that Reporters are by their very nature insensitive, thoughtless, rude and demanding. He was just doing his job as he saw it. No harm-no foul.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  60. Chris - Savannah GA

    He is a public figure and should act as one. To walk into a roomful of anxious reports who are looking for a story and not expecting questions is naive.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  61. earle,florida

    Absoluely not! He's got some good answers,and so far I've been impressed,..

    January 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  62. Keith - Ohio

    Well Jack, Unless you set the ground rules up front, you are open to whatever happens.... when you jump into a snake pit.

    NOW, he knows.. He is learning... The feel-good campaign trail is over...

    Happy O. Year, Jack.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  63. dennis northcarolina

    Both are at fault. The media for stepping on Obama's toes and Obama forgetting that he his president 24/7. If The press wants to push the issue, they may see him less and less.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  64. mitchell, arkansas

    absolutely, it was a fair question, and one i would like an answer to. if the only guy qualified is a loobyist for the defense industry, then this is a direct violation of his own rules. i'm a big time Barack supporter,but, this troubles me, and i think some new faces are in order. surely there is someone else qualified who is also eligible under the President's own rules. rules is rules.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  65. Andrea, Omaha, NE

    Oh the poor whinning media. President Obama has already answered the question numerous times in previous press conferences. He didn't sound irritated on the feed I listened to on the internet. I can understand why he likes to talk to Steve Croft from 60 Minutes because he asks intelligent questions. I would suggest that the media take a look at the reporters they send to the White House. After watching all the stupid questions asked at yesterday's press conference, the press doesn't look too good.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  66. Fran, Brimley, Michigan

    Expressing a friendly gesture toward the press corp just proves the outstanding character of the man!! The press should have accepted that and enjoyed the moment. Instead they acted like barracudas!!!! Shame on them!!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  67. Thom Richer

    Not "unfair" but certainly rude and not very bright. However, if Obama or any other politico doesn't know how news people operate, that being without shame, then they'd better wise up quick. As for the reporters, do the same.

    Negaunee, MI

    January 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  68. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Yes it was. Obama stopped by to be friendly and get to know reporters in an informal manner. Politico was out of line asking a question about policy in that circumstance. The reporters need to know that press conferences are for tough questions and informal meetings are not. We need to bring back civilized discourse to the table.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  69. bob, oshawa, ontario

    Jack, no it wasn't unfair because the reporter probably had no reason to believe that he wouldn't answer the question. However, when Obama explained he was just visiting to check out the press room he should also have been more helpful by adding that the question would be answered at a later time thus eliminating the need for the reporter to press for more info. It would be better if the reporter had asked the President if he was willing to take a few questions before actually throwing one in his face.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  70. Jeff in Massachusetts

    Let's see, he went into a PRESS ROOM (where reporters generally gather) and was asked a question? How novel! The gall those people have! It is , after all, their job to do so, isn't it?
    Ashburnham, Massachusetts

    January 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  71. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    Is it unfair to ask Obama a question recalling that he campaigned relentlessly for the job of President for two plus years, spent a king's ransome, and promised the moon? Absolutely not. If it appears he is backing up on a promise, he must be challenged no matter where it happens. At issue here is his words, not his location. Leadership is supposed to be constant; not scheduled.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  72. John, Fort Collins, CO

    In these circumstances, the Politico reporter was being rude to ask anything approaching a hardball question, but Barack Obama might as well get used to it - this is just the start. He can only hope they keep their shoes on their feet.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  73. Terry "the hillbilly Hooser"

    Noth'n s unfair for the press, Jack you know that. Obama just has to get use to it. A smartelic answer once in a while will help them get along- I'll have to let Obama know that. Jack, he'd probably rather hear it from you, I'd mean more!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  74. Rose in Az

    What did he expect would happen? These people are reporters and it is their job to ask questions. If he didn't want to answer questions he should not have gone to the press room, he has a lot to learn.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  75. Karl from SF, CA

    Yes it was. It wasn’t a press conference but an informal visit to familiarize himself with the press area. One prepares for a press conference and this wasn’t intended to be one. Sometimes the press is a pain where one sits, as with the big deal, by Wolf B. over the press not invited to the second swearing in. I was ready to pitch a brick at my 32” HDTV after a while. Who cares? Report something important and knock off the BS.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  76. joey yankee lake n.y.

    No, he is the President of the US , he should be accountable to the American People. So far he has not been transparent, when does that supposed to start? He's not what he promised to be, nor do I think he will be. It was just alot of talk to get elected. Bussiness as usual in Washington.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  77. Tom Ft Lauderdale


    It sounds like the President is searching for his boundries and the farther he travels the more confining they will become. He should play very close to the vest in the beginning. The question was fair and should have been answered appropriately. Mr Obama should be more careful in the future.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  78. Jenna Wade

    Was it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

    Yes, because when he entered he told the press that he was just there to check out the room..

    I understand that the press is chomping at the bit to ask him questions, but they looked ridiculous!

    What is the old saying "There is a time and place for everyting" well this was the place, just not the time..

    Roseville CA

    January 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  79. Joe in MO

    No. But neither was it unfair for him to say that wasn't the mode he was in right now.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  80. Liz in Towson, MD

    It wasn't unfair, but it was inappropriate for the reporter to push Obama for a response. It's one thing to ask a question, but it's another to be rude to the President. Obama is also correct that there's a time and a place for pressing for answers, and a time and a place for cordial greeting.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  81. Marge in New Port Richey, Florida

    I don't know if it was "unfair" but it was certainly stupid. Obama obviously intended for his impromptu visit to be low-key, perhaps to joke around a bit and have some friendly bantering with the press. They screwed up a great opportunity to set the stage for an easy and informal relationship with the President. The press gets what it deserves and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  82. Rae from Indiana

    Yes, I think it was. Everyone deserves a break.

    There is a press conference every day. That is the time to ask questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  83. Terry in Hanover County

    It wasn't unfair if the reporter didn't know the ground rules for how President Obama wants to deal with the press. Give the man time to get used to the White House grounds and cut him some slack. He's only been in office since Tuesday. Geez. You guys!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  84. garrick

    hi jack
    no the media is just so noisy they cant help themselves.they all are competeing to get the first scoop but Obama always handle himself right and knows how to put them in their place.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  85. Jim/NC

    Why not?...sunlight, transparency, accountability, etc. His rules.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  86. Joe in DE

    Thye question was fair. Talk is cheap – he needsw to walk the walk.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  87. Rian McMurtry

    It's never unfair to ask the president a substantive question. It is sort of silly to expect a substantive answer in an informal setting.

    Davis, California

    January 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  88. Andre R. Newcomb

    Why is he pointing to a golden ring and to a reporter? A Woodward/Bernstein connection?

    Andy of Sierra Vista, Arizona

    January 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  89. Jim El Paso Tx.

    Sure it was Jack but what do you expect from press people...they have no sense. You are not included in that bunch:)

    January 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  90. John

    Jack: I have always defended the right of the press to do their jobs,even those who profess to be fair and balanced press, but the questions were a little hard for a new guy. All President Obama wanted to do is see the new press room. President Obama has the right to see all the house he lives in with his family. Remember, people will always defend free press as long as the press is not to offensive. The more repectful you are of the new president the more information you might get in the future.

    John from Alabama

    January 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  91. Mickie

    I don't believe it was unfair to ask the question, but neither do I think it was unfair for Pres. Obama to not take substantative questions on an impromtu get acquainted visit. I don't recall Bush ever "dropping" by to get acquainted with anyone - he was too good.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  92. Ken Michigan

    Absolutely right on question. You can't say I'm cleaning house and going to better than GOP and then after establishing new rules, by pass them because you want a crony in no matter how good he might be. You can't tell me he's the ONLY one out their who can do the job. Same for the Sec. of Treasury. I understand he designed the already failed bailout bill and therefore he broke it so he knows how to fix it attitude and we have to bypass his moral and ethical slip ups. After all there's no one else out there who can do the job. That isn't why we elected Obama. We thought he would change the Beltway mentality and corruption. Well, it's beginning to look like the old boys network continues to operate business as usual.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  93. Aaron B.; Champaign, IL

    The press picked a fine time to grow a backbone... the moment when it doesn't really matter.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  94. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    Yes it was unfair, and rude. It wasn't a press conference, it was a visit to get to know the press. I like that he didn't answer that reporter. Give the guy a break for Pete Sake, it's his 3rd day in office, and he's accomplished much more than his predecessor did in his first year. Enough all ready.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  95. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    What better chance when a President is up front and personal to ask a viable question regarding one of his cabinet members who was a lobbyist for Raytheon. Isn't this going against what he said that there would be no 'politics as usual' in his administration? Didn't we have enough with Cheney and Halliburton?

    January 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  96. Billy G in Las Vegas

    he should have known he would probably get "blind sided" by something even in an "informal" visit. it's just the nature of modern "gotcha" barking dog media.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  97. Mary from Houston, tx

    Substantive question attempt fair, non-answer fair.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  98. odessa

    where were the reporters when it came to the lies about mass weapons of destruction, iraq war,department justices lawyers etc?..some of the reporters were phoney and keep asking the same questions all over again, again, again and again..obama can give any answer when he wants too..none of the reporters weren't hard on bush....obama wants to be friendly to them but he should know that some of them can be his enemies too..obama knows the press and he knows when to fight back at them..

    January 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  99. Donna Wisconsin

    YES!!! All of a sudden the press is on attack. Give the guy a chance, PLEASE! Informal is just that. They attacked Gibbs yesterday, too. The press want too much too fast. We don't need everything at once. Transparency does not mean I or anyone else needs to know every sneeze or disagreement. How can people discuss or disagree with the press reporting every raised eyebrow that is made? Come on, get real! No one can be candid with reporters around!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  100. Tiffany E. Welch, Germanton, NC

    If it's unfair to be asked questions you can't even answer during a scheduled interview (i.e., Kouric interview of Gov. Palin), what's the difference? Oh, I got it ! President Obama wasn't asked a question "attacking" his famliy...Oh.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  101. Chryssa

    The question wasn't unfair; neither was the answer.

    Boise, ID

    January 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  102. Richard - Knoxville TN

    You're Damn Right It is Unfair -- Why is it that no good deed goes unpunished - Why does the media use every instance, including a obvious attempt of civil friendship to play "gotcha"
    RB Knoxville TN

    January 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  103. Rodney

    I think it reflects well on everyone involved. Reading only what is in your blog (i.e. not knowing anything else about the situation) I get the feeling that this was a barometer for the attitude of the country right now. We all have such high hopes for our future and for what President Obama may do. It sounded like Obama handled the situation well, so...you know what? This may have been a petty question to begin with.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  104. S, Michigan

    It's not a question about fairness- the world is not fair Jack! The question should be was it "polite" or proper to ask such questions at that time. The answer is no! When it's an informal meet n greet, act appropriately in return not ambush- you will get plenty of chances to ask all sorts of questions in the right setting.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  105. Jane (Minnesota)

    I don't think the reporter was out of line with the first question – but was with the second one; the President said he had come in to visit. What happened to respect or isn't that word in the dictionary of the press?

    January 23, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  106. Jay-San Antonio

    It would have been unfair to ask Bush a substantive question during an informal visit. The goal was to familiarize his self with where things are. There will be plenty of time for real on the job substantive questions. The press often behaves too much like the popperazzie.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  107. Lissa in Montreal

    While it wasn't unfair to ask him a question in an informal visit, it would have opened up a charge that he didn't answer EVERYONE'S questions. This wasn't meant to be a press conference. For him to answer one, he'd have to answer all. He can't win either way. I think he did the right thing.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  108. Anj in CA

    Last I checked, it was a free country. They can ask or not; he can answer or not.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  109. D. Texas

    Yes is was

    January 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  110. jyll from TEXAS

    heck if I'd been in that pressroom, I'd asked him a question or two myself...boxers or briefs????

    January 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  111. John from collinsville, Illinois

    Media can't help the way they act, that's what they get payed for!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  112. Chris from Buffalo, N.Y.

    Has it really come to the point where members of the media have to ask whether it was "fair" for other members of the media to ask the president of the United States a substantive question?

    January 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  113. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Unfair, no. Considerate and courteous, again no.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  114. Al in IA

    Rats, I missed it. I think Obama needs to lighten up a little. I thought his reaction to Biden's comment on the Chief Justice's memory was off base. It was a joke for god's sake. He has a wonderful smile, he should use it. It is powerful.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm |

    Not unfair. The reporter can choose to ask, then Obama can choose to answer or not. He chose not. If he had answered, it would have turned into an impromtu press conference. No real harm done on either side.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  116. Rose, RI

    . . . Gotcha questions will only intimidate Sara Palin. Not President

    January 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  117. Melissa

    Honestly? Yes. If they wanted to ask questions, they need to do it in the press room during a press release, not when he just came to say hi. The reporter was being rude.

    Contrary to what reporters seem to think, its not always open season for them. Thats what got Princess Diana killed.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  118. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Not only was it unfair, it was way out of pocket.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  119. Tom from Philly

    Totally unfair. While busch's familiarity with individual reporters was nausiating and probably meant only to waste time and evade questions, BO was only trying to build a relationship with those covering the white house, and introduce himself to those he didnt know yet. There is a time and place for everything, this wasnt it, and when there are 200 reporters in a press conference and only time to answer 50 questions, does this idiot think obama will ever call on him to ask a question? It comes down to respect, and journalists have no respect. The entire bunch of them has degenerated into some perverse form of paparazi. well except for cnn of course.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  120. Ed Woodbridge,Va.

    The reporter was doing his job as I see it! Nothing unfair about it!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  121. Linda in Florida

    Yes and he put them in their place! He went there just to visit; why couldn't they just let him have a few minutes of fun.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  122. Pugas-AZ

    So much for manners with the press corp. They are like hounds looking for scraps at the dinner table. This is what they do. Just say "nice doggies" I'll feed you later.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  123. Albert R.Killackey. Los Angeles

    We are a free country and therefore no question to our leaders is unfair at any time or any place. The answer to this question is obvious, President Obama's new policy of banning lobbyists will result in some of them needing a new job and picking a former lobbyist for a position in his administration is a ray of hope to others that maybe they can find an honest job as well.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  124. John

    Yes it was out of line. That's what press conferences are for to release substantive information. I don't blame the President for being slightly irritated. This man has more on his plate that Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, or FDR.
    Pampa, TX

    January 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  125. Susan from Idaho

    No, he has said time and again he will be an open book. It's up to him how he wants to respond. He can always smile and say “ I would like to borrow a phrase from another politician, I’m not sure but I will get back to you on that”

    January 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  126. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Unfair to ask, no. It is unfair to expect an answer. The press had their chance last week to ask the one responsible for the mess. I'm guessing the person who asked the question won't be called on to have their question asked for the rest of this administration.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  127. George

    The reporter, and the reporters company should make a public apology for acting like reporters while visiting a non-reporting event. Needless to say this reporter didn't win any points, and may never get any answers to any question he may ask from this time forward.. .

    January 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  128. MARCUS123 Flanders

    Of course it is unfair to ask any question other than a puff question,he is a democrat you know;

    January 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  129. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    When you stick your head into the lion's mouth there is always a chance of it closing on you. After being on the campaign trail for two years he should have known better. Now that he is president and walking into a group reporters, unannounced, and no preconditions set such as there'll be no questions you have to expect there will be questions, and they are right in the asking them.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  130. Ron San Diego

    Hi Jack:

    Did they ask him how many times a day he visits the restroom. You media guys need to GET A HOBBY..

    Ron San Diego

    January 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  131. Jack - Lancaster, OH


    I guess in Washington you have to prepare every step. Obama probably had to tell the press it was an informal casual visit so the press would know. I suspect even having done that, the sharks know when it is mealtime whether they are told or not. I think that was another win for Obama.


    January 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  132. Jackie in Dallas

    Ok, let's address the concept of transparency, first. Transparency means being able to see through. Yes, I believe that the question asked was valid one on the transparency of a stated Obama Administration policy.

    Now, let's address the issue of proper time and place. Does the press want another 8 years of only limited access to the President? Do they want to be invited to more White House activities? If so, then pressuring the President on what was supposed to be a casual visit to familiarize himself with who and where people were was the wrong move. His time is limited, scheduled to the minute most days, and answering substantive questions on a walkabout would probably have seriously thrown his schedule off. There are frequent scheduled press conferences, and I believe that President Obama will encourage even more in order to keep the people, i.e. us, informed in these troubled times and THAT is the proper time and place to ask questions on policy.

    January 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  133. cy gardner

    No. He came into their workspace. It's perfectly within his rights to deflect a question to a different forum. But, remember, one of the big complaints about the first Bush administration was that the press didn't do its job. And one of the current paranoid delusions of the GOP right wing is that the press will be just as compliant for President Obama. It's their job to ask. It's his right to answer or not. It's the public's place to assess what they hear or don't hear. cy gardner, arlington, va

    January 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  134. nora CC TXAS

    Yes, it is unfair. Why couldnt he take a moment just to say hello? Does he always have to walk around answering questions? No, There is an appropriate time to do things. Yes, he is the President but even he should be allowed the time to just do other things. It is not like he did not hit the floor running on Wednesday. The press never gets enough, you know that Jack!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  135. Jayne

    He's the POTUS. If he wants to designate a particular time to answer substantive questions, there is nothing wrong with that. It's like the proctologist who goes to a cocktail party. Do you suppose he wants to talk hemorrhoids?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  136. Jim from Rock Island, IL

    My mother always told me, "God answers all of your prayers. Sometimes it's not the answer you're looking for."

    So, it wasn't unfair to ask the question nor was it unfair to give the response.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  137. Jette in Chattanooga, TN

    He did answer the question, albeit it wasn't the answer the reporter would've liked. Substantive questions do deserve substative answers though.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  138. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    Obama obviously visited with the reporters just to meet them and share a light moment or two. He has already answered more questions since his election than Bush has all year. Give him a break, guys.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  139. Brady

    It's the media – and no, the question wasn't unfair. Just because the media is obsessed with him doesn't mean that Obama shouldn't expect tough questions right away from the press.

    Brady from Columbus, Ohio

    January 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  140. Kim in Dodge City, KS

    Lesson number one; if you walk through a snake pit, you're gonna get bit.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  141. Ricky from Roseville, MI

    Legitimate questions at the wrong time. But alas, welcome to the White House, President Obama!

    January 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  142. JW in Atlanta

    Unfair? Probably not. Bad manners? Absolutely. Obama is trying to be straight up. Give him an opportunity to do that. Badgering media should go sell Toyotas with another story and give the man a chance to get his feet on the ground. He's trying to inject decency in the process.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  143. Danny , Sacramento,Ca

    All's fair in love and the press room. that is part of open doors.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  144. Charles-NJ

    Not at all. Get used to it Prez. It's their job.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  145. Stephen St. Romain - Hamilton, NJ

    Jack, If you walk into a room full of piranha you should expect to be bitten.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  146. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    the word informal says it all! Surprising to see the actual size of the press room ...I guess tv screen does enhanced the appearance of the press room of course!

    January 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  147. Dave in Saint Louis

    How dare they speak to the Greatest President of all time when he did not give them permission to be speaking to him! They have a lot to learn! You don't ask important questions about are country when The Great Obama is not feeling like dealing with them!

    January 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  148. Jerry Harris

    He could have been just as rude as the reporters and gave them short and not to the point answers.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  149. jm

    like the old saying goes..." all's fair in love and war"

    January 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  150. Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, Utah

    No, it was not unfair. And President Obama is also free not to answer.

    For the last eight years the Bushies have all but gagged the press! The press is FREE to ask anything at any time..... the president is FREE not to answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  151. Lesa from Jackson TN


    The press is like vultures. They all want to go for gusto at once and when President Obama walked into the press room, their wings started moving outwards.

    It wasn't unfair for them to ask questions. It's in their nature and if he had answered just one question, the vultures would've been flying to their prey.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  152. Kevin, Chester Springs PA

    Give the guy a break already. He went down to say "Hi", shake hands and try to set the stage for a new kind of presidency. I am quite frankly tired of this new paparazzi attitude of shoving questions in his face just like cameras. He's the president of the United States for goodness sake. Show some respect. Obama will answer questions and most likely hold more press conferences than any president in modern times. But give a chance to find his way around the place first. After all, if the White House press corps played it smart, Obama may just do some more "drop-bys."

    January 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  153. Al, Lawrence KS

    If the press wants to act like paparazzi...they will be treated like paparazzi. If they want to act like journalists...they will be treated like journalists. There is a difference. At this first casual stroll by the new President through the press room, a "hi, how are the kids?" would have been a lot more appropriate.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  154. Jay in Texas

    No, it wasn't unfair. It is clear that President Obama just wanted his visit to be a publicity shot showing he will be accessible to the press and the American people. But what good is accessibility if he is unwilling to answer the important questions that we want answers to?
    Brownwood, Texas

    January 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  155. el from Nova Scotia Canada

    Hi Jack

    Those reporters will ask a question ANYWHERE regardless of where President Obama is. Sometimes the questions are needed, as the pertains to the topics. Sometimes it is trivial and unimportant. Either way, he shouldn't be accousted EVERYWHERE he goes. Give him a chance to get used to being President for awhile before we jump all over him.


    January 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  156. Marjorie Lominy

    Leave it to the Politico to try to stress its muscles...I stopped reading it a while back...they have turned into an Internet Tabloid. And yes the President was right no to answer substantitive questions...there is a daily breifing to keep them abreast of what going on...He was just being he nice self that's all.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  157. Jeff A. - New York

    Yes – it's unfair and incredibly stupid. There's a time and place for everything. Walk up the the CEO of a large company and begin asking questions – see if you get any answers. How about the mayor of a large city or a governor? Even movie stars refuse to answer questions "off the cuff." In fact – anyone who has ever been under public scrutiny understands the dangers of freely responding to ad hoc questions. Ever hear the phrase "no comment."

    January 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  158. Sue -Idaho

    Jack, it was a meet & greet not a press confrence, maybe some of these media hacks need a refresher course huh!

    January 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  159. Ken in NC

    Reporters had the right to ask questions and Ptrsident Obama had the right not to respond. Now after being told that he was there for an informal visit they should have backed off to allow him to complete his visit.
    Had they doen that then in the future they may have found him to be more receptive to their questions in later "informal visits".

    January 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  160. Richard, Syracuse, NY

    If this had been done to John McCain or Sarah Palin the Republicans would be crying that the Media is in "Gotcha" mode.

    While the answer is a fair one, the person asking the question is far from being fair.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  161. Nancy, Tennessee

    President Obama learned new ground rules yesterday about the press room. Don't step in the creek if you don't intend to go wading. The press will not pass on any opportunity to get an exclusive.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  162. Tino

    No, it was not unfair. It's time the press got it's backbone back. No question on policy is unfair to the President. Gee, it feels so good to call someone "President" again. I haven't done that in 8 years.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  163. Griff

    A "Dictator" in it's Infancy...

    January 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  164. Arielle

    It wasn't unfair, but it was inappropriate. It was NOT his conference. He was there to say hi. I think that it is reasonable to want answers, but I am sure he will address this issue soon and the press will have the right to question him again in an appropriate setting. He's a procedural man and his focus is based on organization. The press should respect this.

    Arielle Haze
    Glendale, CA

    January 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  165. Jim S

    It was "tacky" of the Reporter and certainly not a good way to get on Obama"s good side. They would love to catch this man off guard while he's' getting his feet on the ground so they'd have a "scoop" to sell their papers. The press has abandoned all ethics, common sense, and manners in doing their jobs. I have no respect at all for them anymore.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  166. Kiran Mandava

    Not at all. In the words of Obama itself he is in public service. In democracy it is the fundamental right of the 4th chamber to ask any question at any time. It is left to Obama to answer the question at that point of time or not. If he is not ready with enough data then he can differ the question.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  167. Linda in Arizona

    He should stop being so damned friendly to people who only want to advance their careers at his expense. Stay out of the press room. They're nothing but a bunch of jackals. Stop saying "you guys" like they were part of a basketball team. Tell wussy Gibbs to do the same. MAKE them respect you, or they never will. They would never have had the opportunity to put bush on the spot, or the courage to do it if they had. Obama is too easy and too nice.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  168. Steve in Clearwater, Florida

    The question was not unfair, but the timing was. There's an appropriate time for asking questions and that is at a press conference. In this case, the President took time out of his day to reach out to the press as a gesture of informal Human goodwill. That goodwill was taken advantage of by an overzealous reporter. It's the kind of behavior we'd expect out of the papparazzi, not a respected journalist.

    We want the press to ask the tough questions and hold those in power to account, but where was this guy's journalistic persistence when the Bush administration was wiping itself with the Constitution?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  169. Audrey West Pt. GA

    President Obama made an informal visit to the press room. He was correct in not answering any questions at that time. The press should be a bit more grown up and stop acting like a group of children out of control. A press conference is a press conference, a informal visit to get to know you is just that by a newly elected President. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know the difference between the two.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  170. Independent for Obama

    Honestly, newspaper reporters are such jerks-they can ONLY be famous by talking to the really famous people and if they have to make publc figures look bad to get attention for themselves, they will. Maybe that creep from Politico would like a REAL reporter's assignment-put him in the Middle East with a REAL reporter like Christiane Amanpour--lets see have brave he is then !
    Janie, Springfield MA

    January 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  171. Lori , Ocoee, FL

    Sweep Week is always on the mind of reporters. Pres. Obama may want to think again about going into the lion's den.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  172. John in Arizona

    It probably isn't a matter of fairness, but of relationship building. The offending reporters run the risk of being ignored at presidential press conferences, as Helen Thomas was ignored for three years by George Bush. It's all about developing relationships with your sources – and Obama is their source now.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  173. Rose

    It was definitely unfair, but I'm sure President Obama knows that his every move, verbal and otherwise will be examined or scrutinized by many. I'm sure that he is well prepared for the piercing eye of the microscope.

    Atlanta Rose

    January 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  174. Alan, Buxton Maine

    It was not unfair for the question to be asked but the reporter should have backed off after Obama explained that this was not the time or place for the question. Obama is the President and justifiably sets the rules in his house.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  175. Ray Kinserlow

    All's fair in love, war and press conferences, even throwing your shoes.

    Ray Kinserlow
    Lubbock, Texas

    January 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm |

    My Buddy Jack Cafferty: It is called a double standard. That question would only be applicable if it was a Republican president. How could you ask such a question for Obama whom you used your show to campaign for him? Dave in St. Louis put it in perspective .Thanks Dave

    January 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  177. Melanie in rural IA

    I guess thats what should be expected when you have reporters camped out 24/7 where you eat, sleep and work. As citizens we could care less if its fair or if he didn't answer. I think the next layoff notice should be from media outlets. There's too many reporters trying to come up with crap to report on, when are you going to figure out that we don't care about it?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  178. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    Obama obviously visited with the reporters just to meet them and break the ice. It wasn't the right time for asking serious questions. He's already done more since Nov. 4th than Bush did all last year and deserved to have ONE light moment.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  179. Gerry In Toronto

    I watched the news conference and it became clear very quickly that the press were playing gottcha with Gibbs on his first press day, particulary ones who didn't get a private interview with Obama and felt slighted. So they took it out on Gibbs.

    Frankly, my response to this Politico reporter wouldn't have been as gracious. I would have told him to piss off.

    The press have responsibilities as well, and what I saw yesterday certainly wasn't professional AT ALL and didn't show respect for the President nor the office.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  180. Charlie in Belen, New Mexico

    After 9/11 the Bush adiministration got a "free ride" by the press. Questions that should have been ask, weren't. Information was withheld, or twisted, to serve the adiministration's interest. I don't think that the media wants to have that happen again, and perhaps they are making their errors on the side of caution in making it known to the Obama administration that they will not fail in their duty to the American public again.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  181. Brian Becker

    The question was a fair one, but that was not the time to ask it. There's a reason they have press conferences, and I wouldn't be surprised if that reporter finds himself iced out for a while.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  182. MRT

    Typical reporters, think they have the right to constantly press issues, even when the President was just trying to make a friendly visit... Maybe he should just cancel all press conferences and let them catch him when they can... He is quickly learning that you can't be friendly in Washington....too many people don't want him to be successful.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  183. Ed

    In the public school system young students are taught that there are no bad questions. To call the question unfair implies that it is a bad question. It seems to me Obama is flip flopping on hypocritical ground.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  184. Jack MacAtier

    Press Room; I just wanted to introduce myself? Like nobody knows who he is. Obama is not doing anything any other politician would do. He is just doing it as quickly and as often as the situation permits. Is he still trying to convince everybody that he is one of the Good guys? Back off and show the people by solving one the real problems by implementing a solution that works quickly and does not penalize the average American. You promised some action, now make some. The election is over people do not care about how the family dresses or how cute the kids are anymore. They just want Obama to stop everything from going down hill fast. “I did not fully realize how bad the situation was and its going to take some time to solve it,” won’t cut it. We voted for change, now change something..

    January 23, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  185. Lou Scolnik

    I am a 110% Obama supporter, but on his informal drop in in the press grill room, I have to say, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the press grill room. A president should be able to be questioned at all times.

    Also, someone who has his email address should tell Obama the grammar rule of using the possessive case with gerunds. Its not "some may object to ME going to Iran", but rather "some may object to MY going to Iran" ....I .hate to see him vulnerable to criticism, as W was, when he repeatedly mispronounced NUCLEAR.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  186. Dee in Florida

    I believe that no question is wrong. The media has a responsibility to inform and they can only do so if they question those in charge.

    And I know that sometimes it is in informal moments that tidbits of information can be gleaned that otherwise might never see the light of day. (see the Jill Biden revelation on Oprah's show)

    HOWEVER, when President Obama was CLEARLY in the press room to do exactly what he said, see what it was like, see the offices and introduce himself to all the White House Press Corps, the question was inappropriate. Especially the "follow-up" question, after the Presiden stated that he was not going to go there!

    It is incidents like this that make some angry at the Press. We all want the news. But the practice of asking the same question over and over, slightly differently worded, is an irritant. I know it irritates me, and I can only assume that it irritates President Obama. And when a person is irritated they often close up like a clam. We've had enough of that.


    January 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  187. Claude,Calgary Canada

    No Drama President Cool Obama, triing to be nice and following the Blessings of Rev. Lowery,
    Black will not get Back- President visits the media

    Brown will stick around

    Yellow will be mellow- maybe Politico should heed to this advise

    Red will get ahead

    January 23, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  188. Ben from Boston


    If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen (HST); if you don't want the questions stay out of the press room. What did he think was going to happen?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  189. Cynthia

    Yes, especailly after he told them that he was coming in to meet and greet them – they should have accepted that and saved the questions for the President's press conference.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  190. scott

    he was checking up on them to see if they were doing there job because they have been hidding and not doing there job sometimes sneaking around isnt abad thing thats how you get the real truth on what there up to

    January 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  191. Darren

    The key word here being "informal." No need for "got'cha" journalism 24/7.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  192. Mike in Akron, Ohio

    It was not unfair for the reporter to ask. Nor was it unfair of Obama to respond as he did. Obama has hit the ground running. Obama has put more care, thought, intelligent, bi-partisan debate, and action into his first few days than Bush ever did in eight years. If he wishes only to stop in and welcome the reporters, let’s give him a little informal down-time.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  193. mac from traverse city Michigan

    Jack the reporter asking the question was being perfectly fair and the presidents response was equally fair. This is a new relationship forming between the president and the press corps and like any new relationship comfortable boundries need to be established. This here was what ya call a "growing pain" and I dont think anyone has done anything wrong here. They all can try again next week.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  194. Dan from Alliance, OH

    It was an informal visit and the press should back off until he is doing an official press conference.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  195. Mark in OKC

    It's the PRESS room, Mr. President, if you enter the water where sharks are, be prepared for their teeth to show.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  196. Deb I , Nauvoo, IL

    Okay question, bad timing, bad manners. Where were the questions when Bush/Cheney owned the room. It is a little late to complain when you press puppies ignored your job for eight years. I hope that reporter is sent to the back of the room and ignored for the rest of his career.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  197. Sandy from Knoxville

    If you were the CEO of a large business and stuck your head into the break room to say hello, you wouldn't expect or deserve to be grilled. The media seem to be without conscious or good manners.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  198. jim-philly burbs

    Absolutely is was unfair. The president made it clear that he was visiting to familiarize himself with the press room. He took the time to shake hands and meet people which corroborates his respect, professionalism, and class. I guess the press there became so accustomed to the arrogance of the previous administration that they felt compelled to vent their frustration.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  199. Big Tony in the ATL

    Hey JC, Reporters assigned to the white house are the cream of the crop, choosen for their aggresiveness, the ability to ask the tough question that can pry the truth from the lips of mortal men. They have worked hard and long, stepping on toes and kissing a little butt along the way, just to get to the white house . I think these Journalistic super men and women are suffering, poor devils. I mean, just think about it, why would a journalist want transparency?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  200. Dean in Pa


    Would a doctor, lawyer or any other professional, besides you Jack, answer questions from strangers on their time off??
    I don't like talking work even at my job.
    I think Barack was right not to take questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  201. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    The first question was understandable, but the second was rude. The president's schedule can't be dictated by the media or anyone else. He's putting ducks in a row first and dealing with issues after all the house keeping chores are done. Isn't that organization 101 in any management?

    January 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  202. Barbara in Las Vegas, NV

    Absolutely, Jack. The President was making an "introductory" visit, if you will, a goodwill effort, and folks had to start asking him questions. Press conferences are for questions, visits such as President Obama made should be left with a handshake and a smile. I guess some folks in the media are always on the job and while we appreciate honest efforts such as the ones made by the Cafferty File and The Situation Room to get us information in a dignified manner, apparently some journalists just never miss a shot and such was the case with the Politio fellow.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  203. Janny from NJ


    January 23, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  204. Eleanora Feucht, Mt. Laurel, N.J.

    Pres.Obama never objected when the press gave him accolades, so much so that they made him think that he "walkef on water". Is he afraid that if he cannot answer an impromptu question, they will discover that he does not? – that he is merely human.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  205. mike ca

    Yes, Yes, Yes.
    He stopped by to get acquainted not a news conference.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  206. amy

    He needs to answer all questions, reporters need to go after him like they did w/ Bush. OBAMA may need to carry a teleprompter since he doesn't know how to answer....ugh I don't....ugh I think.....ugh you know.....ugh you know. He is such a JOKE

    January 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  207. vern-t anaheim,ca

    the president doesn't have to answer any questions if he doesn't want to and i guess he thought any answers he would give would be "off the record"

    January 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  208. Sherri

    I don't think it was appropriate because it was not a official news conference but just a "I dropped by to say hello, how's it going" visit of which some stupid MSM bimbo's just have to blow it for all of them because what the President will eventually do is NOT have any jovial conversations with them if they try the cub reporter antics that were done yesterday. President Obama is trying to create a more relaxed and yet professional rapport with the media and they can't seem to appreciate his gesture, maybe because they were so accustomed to the closed door non-rapport they had with Mr.Bush and they just haven't accepted the new President & his open style.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  209. Darrell from Arkansas

    It's not often that the President gets to cut loose a little. I think that it's great that President Obama is the type of man that enjoys interaction such as this. Therefore, I feel that if the President wants to show up in the press area informally from time to time, the press should both allow and enjoy the moment. They should both respect and treasure this unique time that they get with, just the man, President Obama.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  210. Ron , West Coast

    That reporter for Politico , is a dunderhead . He showed no respect for president Obama , or the other reporters at the informal " get to know you ", gaggle .
    That guy from Politico , just might have messed up an ongoing opportunity for the white house press core to have unexpected informal , " how`s the family , how`s your childs recovery coming along ", type of interactions with the leader of the free world .

    January 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  211. Terry in Fayetteville, NC

    Unless the office has been evading a question for an unreasonable period of time it is unfair to both the office and the public. Often cabinet members have more complete information that the press secretary can better handle. We hired an executive not a message router.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  212. Gigi

    If it was fair or not is not important to me. I'm tired of the rude press. It could make a difference on which coverage we watch. Good manners seem to be a lost art.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  213. amy

    Good to see there 1 remaining reporter who is not an OBAMA-BOT:)

    January 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  214. Ralph Nelson

    Yes. President Obama is overexposing himself to the press. He needs to follow the law of scarity and laws of supply and demand. The scarer something is the more valuable it is. The greater the supply of something the less the demand. Focus on the econony like a laser beam and stop farting around. He's going to grow dull from overexposure. Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  215. Roy - Chicago IL

    The way you phrase your question, Jack, is misleading. "Substantive"? You imply that any question above 2nd grade level was too much for the President in an informal setting. He stopped by top say 'hi'.....unfortunately, reporters (most likely yourself included), are always looking for a story to put them up on the competition. Put it in perspective, so far, Obama is MUCH more accessible to the press than Bush ever was! Questions regarding national policy and staff appointments by the President are appropriate to formal press conferences, not hallway banter.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  216. Lois, Minneapolis, MN

    The press get their bad reputation from just such examples. It would be nice if for once their put aside their bull-dog approach and just acted with grace and sensibility.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  217. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    Nope, all is fair in love, war and politics. The press is wonderful. He comes for a visit and expects to be treated like just one of the other guys. Well, it doesn't work that way and he will soon learn just how lonely the job is that he wanted.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  218. John in Santa Barbara, CA

    It was an impromtu visit, no rules had been laid down, and now they got rules if this every happens again. Big deal.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  219. David

    No he should know that anytime the press see him they are going to try and get a scope or gotcha questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  220. Doris Ky.

    Yes it was Jack. We have a President that is trying to do right by the media and treat them as professionals and now we really have gotcha journalism . I know it is their job to report the news but this is ridiculous give him a chance and stop trying to create tomorrows distraction.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  221. Efrain Cabrera

    +++Hey,tell me whose the BOSS,our president is the boss.We have to have more respect.ok?.President OBAMA is very smart he knoo when and how to answer.Thanks and GOD bless our President OBAMA.+++

    January 23, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  222. John in NC

    Of course it was unfair. He was not asked any substantive questions during the campaign, so don't ask him any now.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  223. Markel Houston

    It was rude and tacky of the reporter to choose that time to ask the question. Mr. Obama was making a courtesy visit. Substantive questions should be asked at the press conferences.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  224. Chris, North Carolina

    look, this is another example of how the media is only here for one thing, a story. Obama came their to meet ang greet, not answer questions, that's what happens when you try to be nice to the media.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  225. Fred May Sr.

    Jack , When I hear some of the questions asked at news conferences I wonder how some of the reporters got their jobs. Some of thier questions take to long to ask and sound stupid. When the president goes to a presidential media meeting, the reporters ought to submit thier questions in advance. remember his time is limited. Taking three minutes to ask a question is way out of control. Having a good tape recorder should be a must. Remember to report what you hear not what you think you hear.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  226. sergio baltazar

    DEAR SR cafferty, the only way to the prs OBAMA to approche this hell in palestine and the jews is to ask to the israeli gov to live the occupations in palestine territories from 1973 war of 6 day and then they will have peace...in the name of aelohim..............

    January 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  227. V.K. Raman, Sparks

    Obama is trying to keep an open door and every time he appears before the press or media, let them not expect all their questions will be replied rightaway.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  228. Lyn from NYC

    They're free to ask. He's free to answer or not. End of story.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  229. James in Kamiah Idaho

    No Jack, It wasn't unfair to ask; just poor form. An impromptu casual visit to see what's what is hardly the time to ask pressing questions.

    It's only been a couple of days into his presidency, and of the questions that the reporter could have asked, that one isn't high on my list of concerns this early in the game. I'm far more interested in him keeping us informed about Afghanistan over Iraq, and I'd like him to bring his 'A' game as opposed to responding out of hand, and with just surface information.

    As it stands, questions like that should be as gone over with a fine toothed comb by the press, as I'm sure the answers will be coming from this administration; so, until about next week, I'm sure President Obama's complaints department will be headed by Helen Waite, and that's where that reporter can go.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  230. patti Fountain Hills, AZ

    Does he have to be serious all the time? Can't he be informal for one second or two? After all, the press gave EX President Bush a big pass on the war in Iraq for too many years. Come on guys! Grow up!

    January 23, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  231. Tim

    The question itself is an appropriate one to ask, the asking of it during an informal visit was stupid on the reporters part. It wasn't a press conference and any journalist worth his salt would have recognized that and taken the opportunity to establish a friendly working relationship with the President. That's a chance that most reporters don't get and one that probably, given the poor behavior on the part of the press, won't be happening again soon.
    Tim in Texas

    January 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  232. George

    Politico, I know who won't be getting called on. This person just might have messed up a good thing. And they had little enough sense than to press the issue.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  233. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    It's fair to ask and just as fair for President Obama to choose to ignore the question. He made it clear why he was there, which wasn't to have a press conference.

    I'm still amazed how the media has whined about not getting invited to the second oath-taking! Give it a rest... maybe CNN and other cable news channels need to take some time off!

    January 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  234. James Reed

    The question was not a mistake nor was the response. As the son of a former newspaper owner I can see both sides. There is going to be an adjustment period between the Press and the President. Remember the last President did nothing but lie to the Press and the Public and he also apparently had wire taps going on all of us, which, I feel is the bigger issue by an exponential amount.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  235. Ignored in GA

    Jack, since this was something new for the media, one "official" question can be forgiven. However, there should not be a big deal made about President Obama's reaction, because he did explain what and why.
    My question for the media: would you rather have a president who you can spend some "off-camera" time with, or do you always want things to be us vs. him?
    Hartwell, GA

    January 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  236. Terry

    FAIR...time for reality.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  237. Adela

    I thought this was a MEET & GREET not a formal press conference. These so call reporters are hungry for blood.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  238. Jean

    He is the President, and he will judge what info. that he want to tell. But if I was in his shoes, I would mark in my mind the Reporters that I like and dislike......

    January 23, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  239. Arlene-- Illinois

    The vultures are out to get any story so they can keep their
    jobs. With the economy on a down side all news outlets will only
    survive if they can get a hot "breaking news" story. Watch out
    CNN the cuts are coming.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  240. Dick from Indiana

    I understand it is Friday and it has been a long week for the producers of Cafferty File but this has to be the silliest question ever asked. I would suggest the show give some interns a chance late in the week and see what they come with.

    January 23, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  241. Jasmine in Germany

    The reporter made a mistake by not recognizing that his pressing in an informal defined situation was unprofessional. No, the question was not fair. This was not the time to ask "substantive" questions in relation to the country or world. Let's get a little more dignified and respectful, it's a new Administration and we should be happy that President Obama has made a cordial surprise visit to the Press. Room.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  242. Scott


    January 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  243. Linda

    Yes, unfair. There's a time and a place, and that wasn't it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  244. Matt Morrison

    only if the substantive questions receive as much scrutiny as they have already.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  245. SurferJim

    Unfair. Respect the man's wishes and stop acting like paparazzi.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  246. AngieH

    It wasn't unfair. But, it also wasn't unfair that he didn't answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  247. Jill

    It is not unfair to ask tough questions, but when the President says "that's enough" take a hint and don't be rude.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  248. James

    Yes it was an informal visit. If that had happened in the Bush administration, the reporter would probably have been dragged to Cheney's dungeon.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  249. Doug

    I don't think the question was unfair.The man is under a crazy amount of stress and he spoke honestly i like that!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  250. Jacqueline

    Yes it was unfair. There are news conferences for these important questions. Maybe the media is trying to seem viable since they let Bush have his way. They are all hypocrites Jack.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  251. Robert

    No, it was not fair for the press to grill Obama, however he should have expected the press to do whatever they could to get answers

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  252. alex in Charlotte

    What was it during that impromptu visit that didn't work for Obama, the walking, the gum chewing, or both?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  253. James from Spokane

    He is the president. Nothing he does is "informal," there is not a minute in the day that he is not accountable to the American people. If he can't handle that, he never should have ran for president.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  254. Eef

    No, of course not. They're journalists for Pete's sake. Not asking, now THAT would be a disgrace.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  255. Hayley (Georgia)

    Are you kidding me? We are talking about the unrelentless media here aren't we? I think its unccoth but than again I'm just an average Joe who thinks sometimes ignorance really is bliss

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  256. BRUCE, CA.

    Hi Jack!

    Goodness NO! He wasn't sitting in a steam room – he was front & center in an operating business office.

    Best regards,


    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  257. Shyam

    I don't think it was not unfair. eventhough his visit is informal, he was subjected to questions from press persons.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  258. Betsy Harding

    How can it ever be "unfair" to ask the PRESIDENT a substantive question? This is not a game we are playing. I suppose it is completely "fair;" however, for him to answer by stating he needs some time to consider his answer. Not unfair to ask, perhaps unfair to expect a complete answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  259. Steven

    In this circumstance it was absolutely unfair. He stated his objective in coming by, and that should have been respected. Being as there are daily briefings and they were told that he would be giving one later, they should have just waited until then to ask the question. It's not as if the question even dealt with something that was breaking news. They could've asked the question yesterday.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  260. Sue, Sierra Vista, AZ

    What part of 'informal' does the press corps not understand??? No, it was not the time nor the place; that's what briefings are for!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  261. Jessica - Michigan

    No, it was not unfair for the reporter to ask a substantive question during an informal visit – the reporter's job is to get answers, and the president is accountable at all times to the American people. HOWEVER, it is also not unfair for Obama to advise the reporter that it was not the place for him to address that question, and direct the reporter to the correct forum.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  262. Erika from Long Island

    The question was fair however inappropriate..there's a time for questions about politics and there's a time for "meeting and greeting" which is what President Obama's intention was at this time..he just wanted to get familar with the faces he's going to be seeing throughout the years to come

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  263. Kevin Partridge


    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  264. Luke

    Well Jack, it would have been completely okay had the reporter simply asked if it was okay to ask the President a question. I think it's unfair to call the President fair game, without first finding out whether or not it would be okay to ask... which should have happened due to the context of the visit.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  265. James

    Yes, it was unfair for the reporter to ask a substantive question of the President. There is a time and a place for such a question, and the reporter violated this protocol during the President's visit.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  266. Webb Thistle

    NO! The legendary Sam Donaldson said it best during the first Reagan administration in a similar situation – "You can tell me there won't be any answers, but you can't tell me there won't be any questions!"

    I was there...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  267. Colby gargano

    ask your questions during a press conference, but when the man is coming down there to introduce himself as a courtesy to you, it's off limits.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  268. Mike from Chicago

    It certainly was not unfair for the reporter to ask him a question, but it also was entirely appropriate for the President to point out that he would rather answer those questions at press conferences. It will probably take the press corps a little while to get used to a President who would actually just stop down there to say hello.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  269. Marv Everett

    Unfair? No. Bad taste? Yes. There's a time and place for substantive questions. An informal meet and greet with the press corps was not either.

    Ocala, FL

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  270. Monica

    Like the president said – there will be press conferences.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  271. yolonda-memphis tn

    I think President Obama was fair in his response. The media needs to be more respectful and I say that as a reporter in training. The media needs to return to the basics, objectivity.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  272. Angie Monteleone

    I feel it was It was TOTALLY fair to barrage Barack, however – it seems that it should be equally fair for him to respond with "now is not the time"

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  273. Indigo

    Yes of course it's unfair for the press to always be looking for ways to play gotcha. They are so self serving under the pretense that it's what the public wants. The public should be able to see moments like what was going on before the idiot reporter thought it necessary to try and make a name for himself.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  274. Jon

    Sure it's OK. But it is also perfectly appropriate for the President to decline answering it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  275. Kristin from Danville, CA


    It was entirely fair for the Politico journalist to ask his question and it was equally fair for President Obama to refuse to answer the question in that setting. However, it was a good question and I'd like to hear the answer at a more appropriate time.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  276. kristen ingram

    Like the Israeli-Palestinian problem, both sides are right. It's fair to ask, and fair to either answer or not.

    Kris Ingram
    Springfield OR

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  277. Robin

    No, it was not unfair. However, I feel President Obama handled it very well. There is a time and place for everything...By the way, way is the media so nick picky. I just want to know how he plans to fix the economy, until we solve this issue, I really don't care about anything else.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  278. Al

    Yes it was unfair. If the media want a casual relationship they have to respect the meaning of a friendly visit.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  279. Ol' Man Beck from Los Angeles

    The reporter ventured out, the prez clipped him and set boundaries and it is the president's call in his own house and it was not an open press conference...Personally...I would have chatted with him and not gone for the "gotya" question...but I am older and wiser 🙂

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |

    Sure it was fair that the reporter asked the question, and was fair that the President chose not to answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  281. cynthia

    Unfair might not be the word I would use but 'pushy' might be. If you don't want him living in a bubble then don't push him into it. There is a time for business and a time for 'play'. Back off and you might be surprised how open this administration will be.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  282. Gregory Daulton

    Imagine a correspondent not asking a substantive question from Obama. He's there. He can hear you. Why not ask?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  283. Meg Parish

    No, it was not unfair of the reporter to ask a question, that is his/her job. Neither was it unfair of President Obama to make it clear that he was not going to be answering questions during the "informal" visit to the press area. I think it was a friendly gesture on his part and the reporter should have nicely backed off when asked to do so. Why is this even an issue? Doesn't this country have real problems???

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  284. Melissa Ballate

    I wouldn't necessarily call it unfair... its the press' job to ask questions. However expecting an answer during a casual visit is probably unrealistic. A man like President Obama must rely on schedules to get things done... a press that wants him to be responsive must adjust to that protocol.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  285. Matthew from Malibu, CA

    No, you have to try your hardest to get a word in for the media outlet you work for. It should be noted that Obama also had every right to be annoyed as well.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  286. Cheryl Baltimore

    Not unfair, just unwise. Friends get more information than adversaries.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  287. Al M.

    No, it wasn't unfair to ask. That said, the President's response also wasn't unfair, so settle down.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  288. caddieman

    Yes, I think it was unfair. This was simply a get to know you type of visit on a friendly basis, which President Obama made clear. Reporters need to respect a person wishes, especially the president's, who took the time to visit with them, which he did on his own accord.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  289. Hugo

    Will it be unfair to ask Osama bin Laden during an informal visit if he was really behind the Sept 11th attacks?
    Politicians gotta stop being irritated when questioned. They are not there because they are being forced, it was their choice first of all.

    Hugo, Brazil

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  290. Shirley in Buffalo

    Yes, it was fair and he should get used to being questioned, whenever and wherever. He is an elected public official in the highest office in the country. Anyone, anywhere can ask him anything. He should really get used to it, after all he wanted to be President. He might actually get better at it, the more he does it. He has no choice.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  291. Cameo (Memphis, TN)

    I don't think it was "unfair" but rather inappropriate. President Obama came to the press room to say hello, shake hands, and check out their diggs... not to be grilled by the press. I understand the desire to attempt to press and get that "big story" yet there is a time and a place. He doesn't need a camera or microphone in his face everytime he's making a gesture of good will and fellowship.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  292. Shan

    No it's not absolutey not
    This country is heading to crisis and P. Obama should be ready 24/7 to answer question like this. Why we voted for him? We need someone who can move this country forward, so America needed a smart person and he is, so these questions shouldn't irritate him

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  293. Miriam Hyde

    Yes, I think it's unfair. No one should have to be "on" all the time. I'm sure the press were shocked at him being there on a casual basis.

    He gives the press lots of time, and good answers. They should give him, and his family, some space just to be people, too

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  294. Mariaelena Raymond

    No question is unfair when you are president. He's got to man up and realize he's in w/the big people now. I wish someone would ask him about transparency of second swearing-in(just tell us you made a mistake in not having a video camera there).

    I am very concerned about his choice of this ex-lobbyist. It's a piece straight from the Bush book of dirty dealings and Obama, given his words yesterday should be enforced today, not just when he feels like it. I don't care how wonderfully talented someone is...a crook is a crook and the public wants Obama to stick to his promises or explain why he doesn't.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  295. Clarise

    I don't know if we should even take time to discuss if this is fair or not. What in life..in politics...or in the press is fair? What I do believe is that whenever President Obama (or a member of his office) enters a room that is filled with members of the press, they should be prepared for ANY type of question. This is the nature of the press and no one can be naive about it. So...next time be prepared for any type of question.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  296. Kaz

    Yes, it's unfair. Most of us avoid calling our coworker or boss at home or when they're not 'on the clock' out of common courtesy; that's something sorely-lacking in the bloodthirsty 24/7 media these days.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  297. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Dear Jack,

    I read quickly and did not notice the words Was it unfair? It is in my nature so far of having learnt to never think about life and events as being fair or unfair...!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  298. Amanda

    Absolutely not. Anytime the President is in front of the press, he should be ready, willing, and able to answer any questions. However, the press should have respected that the meeting was informal and restrained from pressing him for an answer. At the same time though, he shouldn't get irritated, it's going to happen a lot more often as time passes.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  299. charlyne in atlanta

    there is a time and place for everything. give the man a break..dang!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  300. Wendy from Dover, DE

    Unfair? No. But it also wasn't unfair of President Obama to not answer the questions considering the fact that he stated it was an initial informal visit solely to introduce himself to the press corp. He made it clear that he was not there to answer questions. So not unfair to ask, but not unfair to not answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  301. Clark

    yes, that's why there is a press secretary and press briefing!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  302. Tom B.

    Unfair no. Stupid? Very. When the president says he is there informally to get to know the reporters, irritating him by trying to get him to answer substantive questions is not a good way to make an impression. When he is giving a press conference, then you can grill him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  303. larry Phillips

    Since when is the press about being fair to whomever they are talking to? No, it wasn't fair, and that reporter should get a strike. And then I hope the President institutes a 3 strikes and you're out rule. If he says he's not going to discuss something, and you ask again, you get a strike. Three strikes and he never calls on you again. Respect the office of the Presidency or get what you deserve.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  304. Isaac Carmignani

    It does seem like the press is a bit persistent, pushy and crosses the line on appropriateness sometimes. Many would say a lot. While asking a serious question isn't wrong, couldn't it have waited?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  305. Dan

    Any reporter who has any experience, understands that if you abuse informal visits with serious, on-the-record questions, you won't get informal visits any more. Is it fair? I guess it's fair. Is it polite? Absolutely not. Is it smart? No, It's stupid on this reporter's part. He just burned his chance at a good working relationship with the President.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  306. Jennifer from Minnesota

    Yes the question was inappropriate. Does the press understand the definition of informal? This was a meet-and-greet guys, come on. Sometimes I think the press should all be on Xanax.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  307. Natalie Dayton Ohio

    It was fair. It was equally fair for Obama to defer comment until the appropriate time...most likely avoiding what would have become a media hounds sound bite delight. Freedom of speech, press and religion are wonderful but unfortunately, the media is out of control and absent any real news tends to enjoy "creating" it. Sean Hannity, Rush Bim-bo are among the greats and just look at the unchecked venom they are permitted to spew out irresponsibly. Obama did the right thing.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  308. Jeannie

    Yes–there is a time and place for everything and when he is trying to be friendly and set a new tone is not the time for serious grilling. He was right to answer that way. There is a time and place for those questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  309. Valerie

    No it was not unfair toask him a substantive question butit was unfair to expect an answer ..and he did answer the basket ball question ..he said it was to cold out ....and I heard that answer on cnn

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  310. Bill from Boston

    I am a journalist, and the correct answer is that it was not inappropriate to ask a question of the President during his visit to the press room, but it was inappropriate to keep asking him the same question after he said it was s social visit. That's where it crossed the line into rude.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  311. Sage from Annapolis, Maryland

    There had already been a press briefing that day and a question came up on that subject. If Obama had begun answering questions of the one reporter, then all the others would have piped in and it would have been another press briefing within hours of the first. I agree that he should have done just what he did.

    His policy on lobbying is very clear and it addresses future lobbying and not past lobbying. I think this is just another one of those trick questions that are brought up by reporters to start controversy.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  312. Nabweekly.ca--Ontario, Canada

    I don't think it was unfair the question was asked, that's what inquisitive minds want to know, but when the answer was not at this time, I'm here to say hi then it should be accepted and not harped on of Why did he not answer the question along with taking no offense.

    Even the President of the United States needs to just have a chance to be human and just say hi as he gets used to his new surroundings I mean really how overwhelming this must be for him, and that coming in on an upbeat economy, look what he has walked into. Let the man breathe.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  313. dean

    Yes it was unfair. As a dentist myself, we often entertain friends and love to throw parties on FOOTBALL Sundays while watching my new "50" inch Panasonic. We don't sit around talking about everyone's teeth. Please, our MSM is worse than the paparazzi.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  314. Andrew in New Jersey

    No, I don't find it unfair. He was in the press room after all. I don't find Pres. Obama's reaction unfair either. The reporter has the prerogative to ask the question just as the President has the prerogative to dispell the question in an environment not designated as a press conference. I think Obama's response was the correct one for the occasion. Kudos to him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  315. Malcolm Reding

    The man is still trying to find the bathroom, give him a break.
    Malcolm Reding

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  316. Nate

    As president he is going to be asked questions at the most inopertune times because not everyone gets the opportunity to see or speak with the president. However, he is not obligated to answer the questions on the spot. In spite of the powerful position he upholds, he still must maintain a balanced lifestyle as a leader.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  317. Kim Hixon

    Considering that none of the press EVER asked any substantive questions to President Bush in the 8 years he ran the government (or any other lawmakers for that matter), it is rather irritating that NOW that we are on the brink of a total collapse everybody wants to ask questions. Why don't you spend your time trying to find out what got us here NOT what the president is trying to do to fix this mess.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  318. Francisco Jimenez

    It was not a pres conference, it seems to me a social visit, I feel it was rude to ask.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  319. Thomas Binkley

    While they may not want to answer, it is NEVER a bad time to question a representative of the public, especially when they were elected to office. I want the press to act as one of the primary checks and balances in our democracy and I applaud them for continuing to do so.

    While I voted for Obama and I believe that he is working to be more transparent than the Bush regime, he does not get to choose the times to be transparent. I expect this all the time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  320. Betina Lewis

    Yes, I believe the reporter was unfair to President Obama. He took advantage of the President trying to get to know the reporters. It was an informal visit, and he did not respect that. President Obama clearly stated that his visit was get to know the press and to introduce himself. Also, the President said there would be a press conference, so the reporter could have held his questions until then. I believe that under pressure, President Obama handled himself very well.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  321. E Dean

    I guess you can't blame the press for trying, but I think the President is also within his rights to say if he's prepared to be questioned or not at a particular time, especially if he has made the effort to seek them out. Probably what made him "testy" was their refusal to accept his first response. They should be glad he's making an effort to get to know them on a personal level and that it will improve their reception by him in future.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  322. Kevin

    Was it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

    Unfair, no. He's the one that's big on transparency. I think it was totally within his prerogative, however, to decline to answer due to the informal nature of the visit, and a bit naive and perhaps in poor taste for the politico reporter to expect an answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  323. Pat Chambers

    yes, that is very unfair to him. He should be able to walk around and introduce himself without being drilled. I feel sorry for the poor guy. There is a time and place to ask questions and I am sure he allows for that.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  324. Liz, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    No, Jack, it wasn't unfair to ask President Obama such a question while he was visiting the press room, but Obama can always reserve the right to refuse to answer the auestion at that time. It's kind of a nick-picky question to ask, don't you think?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  325. Joe in Canada

    The substantive question wasn't unfair, though now that Obama has set the stage that his informal visits are "off the clock" then that should be respected. It's a great strategy on Obama's part.

    It is no more different than those who don't talk business at ball games, or around the dinner table. If the topic in those visits is kept to "non-work" related items, the press will get a much better view of their president personally, and help to create a better working relationship when they are on the clock.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  326. Tom Warren

    It was okay to attempt to ask the question. What was unfair and out of line was to object to the answer you got.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  327. Dre from Denver Colorado


    I wouldn't say it was "unfair" to ask a question, but it was absolutely inappropriate. This reporter needs to have a miniscule of professional manners and recognize that it's to the press' benefit to let the President kind of relax and get to know them. He was taking a minute out of his precious time to do just that. The reporter should have held his question for the approriate time and forum and just enjoyed the "moment" along with everyone else.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  328. Natalie

    Well, I do not think it is unfair, It is not necessary for a journalist to ask question while the president is trying to get to know them and pay a friendly visit to them. how would like someone visiting your house and you start asking him questions about his business.
    Basically, i feel there is a time and place for everything and asking questions during an improptu visit is not needed and quite frankly not necessary..
    Houston, tx

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  329. Gary

    The question shouldn't have been asked.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  330. Vicki - Round Rock, TX

    The President was not there to answer questions..he was just dropping by...it was ok for the reporter to ask...but not unfair that the President did not answer. I think everyone better get use to the new ways.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  331. Skrimps

    No Jack it's never unfair to ask someone of this stature in the world questions of any sort except maybe when he's got a big mouthful of a Chicago Style Pizza. But in all seriousness, this man has just been elected to run the most powerful country on this planet of ours. He should be prepared to answer questions at any given time or if he doesn't have an answer then table it for his next conference and provide us with an answer then. Nothing is fair when you're the boss.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  332. Joseph Light,jr.

    I saw it and was appauled. Check his passport and you will see that he was obviously one of the papparazzi trying to get that "best shot" behind Dianna on that tragic day in 1997!! I thought it rude, and inconsiderate! So I guess their is such a thing as a "green reporter"!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  333. Steve

    If the press core feels obligated to ask probative questions in a social situation then they should expect to see less of the President. Does the press core believe common civility is a quality they do not need?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  334. Jan S.

    Was it unfair for the press to "press" the new Prez during his first and "informal" visit to the press corp?? Absolutely not! They're just doing their jobs. Is it "unfair" for any of us (including those of the Press) to expect there to be a resetting of boundaries?? Absolutely not... too. Such renegotiations of boundaries are always (always!) full of such moments until everybody becomes settled in the "new ways". New Prez – New rules. It's been that way for each and every new occupant in that top role - why should anybody think it different for this transition? I say – more power to them all. They'll work it out.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  335. Bob Hofman

    No, it isn't unfair to ask any question at any time. But likewise, the person being asked does not have a requirement to answer and the asker (and in this case the reporter and the rest of you news people) should not make a big deal out of it.

    If the president want to make an informal appearance and doesn't want to field questions, then that is his prerogative. news people have to respect other people's rights (not just the president's).

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  336. Louise - Santa Barbara

    Yes, it was rude and out of place

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  337. Gary Garrison

    YES, the question or any question was out of order totally. The brief appearance was to build relationships and not sound bites. Of course, the media goons will disagree, but respect for the Office of President is something most of you need to learn, AND that includes you Wolf Blitzer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  338. Trina in Potomac Falls, Va

    It was probably poor judgement for the report to bother the President at that moment, however I suppose it is "fair" to pose a question during work hours. The error was when he didn't accept that the President was not willing to answer the question at that time. The reporter certainly should NOT have "pressed further."

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  339. Robbie

    Yes, it was unfair. The reporter should have taken the opportunity to get to know the President. Frankly, this should have been simply a visit and not an occasion for cameras and reporting. It was a gracious move on Obama's part to humanize the office. Perhaps the reporter should develop a better "read" on the situations he monopolizes.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  340. Ruth

    I believe that once the Presidnt made it clear the purpose for his visit, certain types of questions should be avoided. Afterall, there is sufficient press opporunities to ask questions. Sometimes the press asks such "DUMB" questions it is irritating! I wonder sometimes if they have college degrees the way that they behave.

    Wallington, NJ

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  341. Seqoya

    The Press just wants Headlines as always, that is their job after all. And yes President Obama should be ready to answer questions at all times, but that wasn't the time or place that he wanted to answer questions. He has other important things to do, and the fact that he didn't answer some random press question is not a big deal. He will answer their questions on his time, he is the Commander in Chief.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  342. Renee

    Unfair. Give him a break, he's doing fine!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  343. Roxanne

    Unfair? No. I would say that the reporters that are in the White House are top in their field in order to be where they are at. You don't become a top reporter by being afraid to ask the questions. That being said, I agree with the President's stance because the visit was intended to casually build rapport with those he would be coming in contact with on a regular basis, not to add to the loads of information released to the press throughout the day. Great show tonight!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  344. Peter eden

    Not unfair to ask but also not unfair for Obama to defer answering. If the spirit of collegiality is to persist, there has to be some balance between informal / off the record and hard-hit 24/7 'I am a reporter.' All humans will develop a bunker frame of mind if 100% of the time is 'gotcha' time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  345. Katrina Ross

    Of course it was unfaiir. Obama's human, and this was a time for BOTH the press and him to connect in a very human way. Have they no shame? Whoever asked the question missed an opportunity to interact with him on this human level. Pity. There are times for questions, and time for friendship and developing a friendly relationship. With such a charismatic president, I would have jumped at the chance to interact with him this way, when questions could have come later. Pity.

    Plus, can't they give the guy a break?!

    Katrina R. Lexington, KY

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  346. Keith

    I don't believe that it was unfair, but I do believe it would have been appropriate to ask the President if he was prepared to answer any questions at the time. The President was only stretching out a friendly hand to introduce himself. The President handled this appropriately in letting the reporter know that he was not open to questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  347. Laura from Minnesota

    No, it was not unfair, but it was a little rude to follow up with another question, when Obama was pretty direct in his initial response.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  348. Derek Smith

    It's about respect. Not many have respected the government in a long time. I believe if we pay it forward the rewards could be great. Take the plunge!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  349. Morry

    Unfair? Absolutely not. President Obama is now the most powerful man in the world and, no matter how outrageously popular he may be, transparency demands he be willing to answer tough questions.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  350. David Markland

    Whether Obama went to the press room to merely greet the media or to butter them up, the only concerning thing is that he was surprised or annoyed by a reporter pushing a question – he should expect and always be ready for this sort of thing. His handlers should have arranged a simple logistical walk thru or meet and greet, or announced it as such. But the press shouldn't allow the President to become chummy with them – they can remain cordial, but not biased.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  351. pat Trinidad & Tobago

    No it was unfair, but he also did not have to answer. So what if he was irritated? It comes with the job.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  352. Tom Penn


    Wolf is wrong. Reporters knew in advance that questions were off limits. The President was honoring their 'news gathering' service that they, we think, do for the rest of us.

    The 'bully' approach is not only wrong... its bush league, excuse the pun, unprofessional and uncalled for... Now if the President is walking from the helicopter to the White House... the news hounds can howl all they want...

    He won't hear them anyway!

    T. Penn

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  353. Sandra Davis

    No, the reporter's question was not unfair. However, President Obama's was fair to decline and provide explanation. He even offered a solution. He has options and that includes discernment in responsive media interactions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  354. Jan in Kansas

    Yes, the reporter may ask any question and Obama should be prepared to answer questions at anytime. Is there something to hide? The last time I checked, we still have freedom of speech in the United States.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  355. Donna Lee

    It WAS unfair. The President has a full schedule, and must stay reasonably within that schedule. If he answers one question, that would no doubt lead to others, and an "introductory visit" is simply not the time.
    Donna Lee
    Concord, CA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  356. Jagat

    it was unfair of the reporter to ask any question when the president was there informally.press should learn how to respect the president.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  357. Ray Victory

    Vero Beach, FL
    Of course it was fair to be asked, just as it was fair for The President to refuse to provide a substantive answer. For substantive questions and answers to be accurate and effective they must be asked in the proper forum. Is it a "gotcha" moment you're looking for or a real answer to a real question. The press must exercise responsibility as must their rightful objects of inquiry.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  358. Dorinda Criddell

    In an informal situation it is expected to keep the mood light. Therefore, President Obama will feel comfortable in returning to the press area more often informally and possibly offer more access than in a press conference atmosphere where substantive questions should be asked. In establishing a relationship with the president, you don't have to compromise your principles but they can be applied in a way to offer the press more advantages. President Obama, afterall is not asking to be treated with kid gloves.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  359. ray bennett

    the press are rude, obnoxious, and have no respect. they try to bully people. i hope obama stands his ground and puts them in their place.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  360. D. Donnelly

    Reporters' jobs are to get the news first but it's important to honor the set-aside times when seeking information is the agenda. Otherwise, the president won't want to visit merely for the visit if he's grilled. Courtesy, yes!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  361. Meg Parish - Richmond Hill, GA

    No, it was not unfair of the reporter to ask a question, that is his/her job. Neither was it unfair of President Obama to make it clear that he was not going to be answering questions during the “informal” visit to the press area. I think it was a friendly gesture on his part and the reporter should have nicely backed off when asked to do so. Why is this even an issue? Doesn’t this country have real problems???

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  362. Gail Caddell

    No – as an analogy I would compare it to cornering a doctor at a cocktail party to ask him/her about a personal medical problem. Social ettiquette says no-no. The same applies to this situation, in my estimation.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  363. Pete Martell

    for the last 8 years the press pack left far too much unquestioned and Bush got away with lying to the American People. It is good that the press is starting a fresh course with the new Administration. Actually acting as journalists. How refreshing. Don't miss any opportunity to seek the Truth.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  364. Tammy

    It wasn't unfair for him to ask, but to continue to press the issue was disrespectful! Even journalists and reporters should know when to "say when!" If the President wants to come by and greet you, who are invited guests in his White House, be a little grateful and just enjoy the moment! Just because you have the right to voice your oppinion because you have a mic in your hand, doesn't always mean you should use it when you please! Show some respect!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  365. Alvin Payne

    Yes, the question could have been asked but, accept the first answer and not press for any more details, as this was just a show of good communications between the President and the press.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  366. Aamer Abbas

    This is almost a ridiculous question. Perhaps the question was not conventional, but it's certainly not "unfair." Obama signed up for the job of President and part of the responsibility of this job is to be ready for any question at any time. After all, he is potentially responsible for the future of millions, if not billions, of people.

    Obama reserves the right to refuse an answer, but we all reserve the right to ask questions at any time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  367. Judie

    Cut him some slack! You guys have bickered the last several days, seeming to think that increased openness means you can be with him when he shaves! Get real! You already have more from him in a short week than you got from Shrub in four years. Are you never satisfied?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  368. Tony Hughes

    No, I dont think it was unfair for the reporter to ask the President that question, he/she was just doing their job. However, if he prefaced the meeting that he was just there to say "hello" and to "get to meet you guys" I feel the reporter should have left it just as that, a friendly visit by our new Commander in Chief.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  369. Darren in Kenilworth NJ

    Back uo a little... Would it have been unfair to ask President Bush a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room... Of course not.. Right Jack?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  370. Jude Lyon, Anchorage, Alaska

    Mr. Cafferty...

    It isn't about the question being unfair, it's about it being inappropriate. This was not a press conference with Obama and he firmly reminded the press corps of this fact. The media needs to police its manners and not turn into a bunch of paparazzi pushing beyond appropriate limits. I praise Obama for establishing boundaries that are fair to him, as well as CNN's viewers.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  371. Sharon S.

    Perhaps asking the question was not unfair, but pressing the issue after the President politely pointed out he was just making an informal visit was rude and pushy on the part of the Politico reporter.

    The reporters actions made members of the press look like a bunch hungry wolves, anxious to get their teeth into any possible prey for the sole purpose of creating an issue for rating purposes.

    Sorry, CNN, but I am sick of media "glorified" issues. I think as a nation we have some real problems and that's all I want to hear about.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  372. Sam of Carolina

    Yes, it is ok to ask, if you want to be "that guy." However, it is not okay to get huffy and puffy about it and write a negative article because your feelings got hurt. Mr. Martin needs to work on his social skills.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  373. beth

    It was fair to ask, butnot to insist. President Obama's response was fair too. How can one expect Presidents to remain in touch if we don't allow them to approach people around them informally, without being on the record all the time? Let him breath, give him some space and don't worry too much, we got the right guy for the job!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  374. Amina

    I don't think it was unfair to pose that question to the President, after all he runs the country and he wants to stay close to the people and this is an issue the people are going to wonder about. On the other hand, I think it would have been appropriate for the employees to take the visit for what it was and be happy and repectful about the fact that the President took the time to out to visit, informally, and without any prepared press release which is most optimistic on his part. But afterall the press will be the press!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  375. T. Carreker / Los Angeles California

    At the particular time yes. I feel it was inappropriate for the reporter to ask the question.

    President Obama appears to be fair and inclusive and by all accounts deliberate and appropriate in his thought process and actions.

    If he were fair enough to be inclusive to staff in an informal setting and manner to staff, then the staff should have respected that and responded appropriately.

    Thanks Jack

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  376. Ann Miller

    It wasn't unfair but will be in the future if that's the way the President sets the boundaries and keeps them. Reporters are people; they'll take as much as they can get. But if they want informal visits from the Pres, they'll respect his boundaries.

    Baraboo, WI

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  377. M Meeker

    I may be a bit biased as I am no fan of modern Journalism, but I think the question was out of line. Way out of line.

    It was an informal, "hi ya guys!" kind of visit. Journalist need to learn that there is a time to hang up their elitist World Saviour mantle and just be one of the guys!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  378. Tom Clark

    I think it was crass, an attempt to "scoop" or add drama to an event meant to informally wander the halls of the capitol, get familiar with the people and places he has to deal with all the issues that confront him. I get the impression that if the press and anyone for that matter work with this administration all will gain from that work.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  379. Dyanne Earley

    Hi Jack –

    They can ask, but he doesn't have to answer! The problem with the
    press, as I see it, is they ask a question, get an answer and then they
    ask the same question over and over again. Makes it look like they
    don't understand the lantguage sometimes!

    Irritating! And where do the TV staions get off dismissing the presence
    of print jpournalists as being sufficient for the "reswearig" process. They are reporters too!


    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  380. Ana in Switzerland

    No it wasn't unfair, but I think any expectations that he was going to answer them is just stupid. Furthermore, I do not believe that President Obama was irritated that the reporters tried to ask substantive questions, I think he was irritated when they wouldn't stop, after he had already made it clear that he was there for another reason.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  381. Brenda Harris of Saginaw, Mich.

    What the new President fails to realize is that he has now become a piece of meat for the hungry wolves. ( reporters)

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  382. Kevin

    No. Sorry reporters, the president doesnt have to answer questions everytime you see him. He's a busy man, got lots to do. Maybe you could run something else on CNN besides 4 or 5 dead story lines. How about taking on a real challenge like, reporting on defense contractors and the monies given to the department of defense; or I guess you could keep tackling tough stories like Caroline Kennedy and why they re-did the oath of office.........cowards.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  383. Pat

    Not unfair, just unwise. The President is a person and right now, a very tired person. If I were a journalist, I would try not to irritate the person I wanted to call on me at the press conference. You can't blame him for trying, but I'm sure that the other guys are glad they didn't.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  384. Bri

    Yes it was inappropriate to ask the President that question, he was only surprising the press with an informal visit and they went straight for the White House Press Room questions when the setting did not suggest that tone of speech.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  385. Dave, Chicora, PA

    He went there to say hello! I am a carpenter by trade and do not expect to be asked to do repair work at friends' house when I stop in to say Hello. Sometimes reporters are like vampires that can never get their fill of Blood. Dave

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  386. Christie Smythe

    Yes, it was unfair. Would it be fair to ask a news reporter to report a news story on camera when they are invited on a tour of the White House bowling alley? Every professional deserves a chance for preparation.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  387. Judy-NYC

    Yes. It's not surprising that a member of the press might try to ask a serious Q to the President just to give it "the old college try" or try to score media points, but I think Jonathon Martin went to far when he didn't accept Obama's friendly reponse (no questions) & pushed on with another question. judging from the videos i saw of the moments, most of the press was rather surprised, smiling & in good spirits.
    will be interested to see if Martin gets any "scoops" from the new Admin. hereafter.
    keep up the great work...!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  388. Rodger

    Rodger , Alberta, Canada

    Let me say No. But if the each time the president wants to have light moment, you what to pick up a fight with him, he will be like Bush and you would never see him again.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  389. Brad K

    I love you jack, but this question is weak, just like the topic. Neither should be newsworthy.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  390. Rebecca

    President Obama has always shown comtempt for the media. It's not surprising he was annoyed a reporter tried to ask him a question. i think it was fair game to ask him while he was on the press's turf!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  391. Brian Berkowitz

    Jack, I never before wrote, but tell these guys in the press room, if they build a good relationship with the new President, it will work for them. A "hello" visit should be treated just that way. Don't be a jerk. Pay attention to the important stuff and leave the trivia alone.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  392. Alex

    Obama is the just a President. He is NOT a king or an emperor. He works for us. He is being paid and was on the clock. Yes it is fair, very fair and he was derelict in his duty to the American people to refuse to answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  393. gl

    Jack - why is it now that everyone wants to ask questions of the "President"? I didn't see this going on with Bush when he was in offoce. I feel he handled it well. It seems the press wants to know/report on what he does 24 hours a day - guess next we will know how often he "sneezes" or how many bites he took when he ate his meal - get a life will ya!!! Is this what we have to look forward to for four or eight more years? I pray CNN can find other stories to report on.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  394. Vivien

    Is Obama only going to answer questions that suit him? He has become an idol and most people are worshipping

    January 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  395. Nellow, Glen Allen, Virginia

    Jack, yes it was unfair. The president wanted to give the reporters a pleasant friendly surprise, to acknowledge them and meet them personally. He was not there to hold a press conference. The reporters were ruining this casual visit by trying to turn it into a press conference. What is it? These reporters cant find something to talk to the president about other than grill him with questions when he is trying to get to know them personally? If I were him, I would be frustrated too.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  396. Sue Cain

    Yes it was unfair. It was not a formal meeting and the press needs to learn some manners about when and where to ask such questions. They also need to take the hint and not make President Obama spell something out when he is trying to be respectful of them.

    West Virgina

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  397. Margaret, Frederick, Maryland

    I don't think the question was "unfair" (its the reporter's job) but given it seemed the purpose of the visit was "introductory" it was perhaps inappopriate. Let's have a little decorum. Last week I was in the office of the new President of my company for an equipment installation. I asked a couple of benign questions about whether he was going to move his family but certainly didn't jump all over the guy and ask if he was going to lay a bunch of people off on his first day. Get the picture?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  398. Cindy Richardson

    Very inappropriate time and very unprofessional. He was there for good will, as a friendly and welcoming gesture, not to be badgered by the press.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  399. deSousa

    Absolutely – it was rude and smacks of ingratitude to accost the President when he was trying to be neighbourly and stopping by to say "Hello." I personally think that all of you Press Hounds need to take a cold shower and give this man some space to do his thing in a very difficult state of affairs. We know that you press people believe it is your God given right to hound people in search of what you so blatantly refer to as 'the truth' but all you are after is a good story – whether it is true or not. So be grateful that we have got ourselves a wonderful guy as a leader and cool your jets for a while.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  400. Lisa

    Jack, call him President Obama, give him the respect he deserves. Yes, it was unfair.

    Lisa, SC

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  401. KAS

    Although informal, reporters will be reporters. Need i say more? 🙂

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  402. Jersey

    Obama & his team will neither respond to questions during press conference nor during informal visits. Its time for CNN to get real to get some real answers for American People.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  403. Luke, Alabama

    Unfair? No. Boorish? Yes.

    Some members of the press have a rather inflated sense of entitlement, and need to be whacked on the head with a rolled up newspaper from time to time. I'd use the New York Times, Sunday edition..

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  404. Alicia, Jacksonville, FL

    I don't think it was unfair to ask a substantive question, but it seems unfair to berate the President for preferring to keep his visit off the record. What's wrong with keeping to a designated time and place for reporters' questions? So far, he's been much more accessible and forthright than our previous president was.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  405. Robert Downs

    It was unfair. They are the accredited White House reporters, not vulltures. Or are they? It was a behind the scenes visit. Had they no oportunities, that could be understood. But there is a daily press briefing. Basically you chased him away. You have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold em.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  406. Babs Thomas

    Yes, it was unfair to grill the president. If he came into the press room to introduce himself/learn where people sit then that's what it should have been. Just let the first meeting be a building block to a good relationship between the press and the pres.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  407. Beth

    The question wasn't unfair and President Obama didn't have to respond. He said he just went there to say hello, so obviously he didn't want to take questions. Just because you ask doesn't mean the person is required to answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  408. Rose

    It wasn't unfair to ask. It was inconsiderate to press when the President chose to not respond during an informal visit.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  409. Nolan Fisher

    The question was not bad but the timing of it was bad. you don't ask the President a question like that in a White House hallway. That is why they have press conferences to ask whatever question you want . next thing they will be stopping his motorcade as it goes down street,


    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  410. Tim - Idaho

    Yes. I applaud Obama for reminding them that he and they should adhere to scheduled times for questioning.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  411. Anna D in Seattle

    It was not unfair for the reporter to try and ask his question. It is, after all, his job to try and get those answers. However, the reporter felt he needed to still press after it was made clear that this was not the time. That is is when it became inappropriate. Hold your horses, Politico. It's clear President Obama's call for patience still has yet to reach some ears.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  412. Katherine

    As a journalist myself, I think that the reporter was definitely over zealous. I think that sometimes those of us who work in the news forget how to take our work hats off and just be human. Clearly President Obama was trying to be nice and say hello to the people he will be working with for the next few years. He didn't have to do that, and the reporter should have appreciated that the President was being so considerate.
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  413. Jerry from California


    With all the action's the President has taken on in his first days, and the huge undertaking of trying to solve the nation's problems, that question should be asked in a more appropriate press conference form and not a back door type of situation.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  414. Donna Koenig

    Was the question unfair? Had you held the same bar for the past eight years, the answer would be "Of course, not". But the media is suddenly raising expectations of our new commander in chief. Why?
    Anyway, to answer your question, "Yes". Just in case you couldn't figure it out.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  415. Laura

    It was perfectly fair and appropriate for the press to ask the president questions. He came down to the press room, after all. That said, it's his right to defer substantive responses until a formal press conference. Just because he's not ready with a comment on everything at all times doesn't mean he's being evasive.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  416. Dawn in Atlanta

    Of course it was not an unfair question by the reporter. However, if President Obama did not want to answer questions at that time, that is his right. I applaud his effort to be more accessible, but that does not mean he has to answer such questions every time he is in earshot of a reporter. There is a time and place for everything and he made it clear that was not the time nor the place. Good for him!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  417. Mary

    Yes it was absolutley, As the President Obama said he has formal press conferences when reporters can ask him any and every question and if there is an answer one will be provided. You journalists can help someone rise but at the same time contribute heavily to their demise. I wish you guys would back off for Christ sakes he's only been in office for only three full days and is doing the best he can AS FAST AS HE CAN. BACK OFF. AND SHAME ON YOU WOLF BLITZER. YOU ARE TOTALLY BIASED. It's very annoying having a stupid microphone shoved in your face when it is unwelcomed. I think President Obama has been very gracious so far with few mistakes, he has been respectful and patient with you journalists and I hope you guys can show him the same RESPECT. ALL I AM SAYING IS BACK OFF A LITTLE GIVE THE GUY SOME TIME!!!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  418. Janice Ryan

    Unfair is not the point but it is unwise for the press to block his genuine attempts to interconnect with the press and the public in new and important ways. Don't push him back into a pattern of avoidance by not respecting his time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  419. Sawsan

    It was unfair. The reporter sounded like he wanted to embarrass Obama. Give the man a break. He is just visiting, light social visit. He can ask all the questions in a press conference.
    It feels like some reporters are waiting for Obama to slip which will lead to a scoop for them.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  420. cmc

    Comment on Obama's informal visit with the press. I think Obama wants to appear open friendly and engaging, but on his terms. And given the level of transparency he is showing and action in his first few days in office, my answer is Yes, I think it's unfair to ask on in informal meeting.
    After all he acting in all of our best interests let him take the lead. He has shown only the upmost integrity. Let him be!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  421. Craig

    The president appears to want a good relationship with the news media compared to the often distant and strained relationship between the White House press corps and The Bush Administration. Mr. Obama also seems to want an informal style. However, I think it was naive of him to "stop by" the press room and not expect questions. It's probably just part of the natural adjustment period between being a candidate and being the president.

    Silver Spring, MD

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  422. Reno McCarthy

    No, it was not unfair. The President is savvy enough to understand that, when you appear in front of a bunch of reporters, they're going to do their job and ask questions. They are within their rights to do so.
    On the other hand, if the White House Press Office had been doing its job, this would not have been an issue. Simply declaring, in advance, that the President would be visiting the Press Room for an informal and Off The Record chat probably would have handled everything up front. If that announcement was made, then the reporter acted improperly.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  423. Wayne

    Just because someone is a reporter, it shouldn't always follow that they're supposed to ask questions 24/7..

    There'll be tons of press conferences, which is the place to ask such questions.. The guy just dropped by to say hello and couldn't just have a light few moments without someone thinking they had to start asking questions..
    I wouldn't blame Pres. Obama if he separated himself from that area.. But then they'd be asking why he doesn't stop by with more donuts.. Gotta love it..

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  424. Pat Canada

    Hi Jack,
    No Jack I don't think it was an unfair question. In fact, I'd appreciate knowing the answer myself! I think Obama's irritation was out of place.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  425. TT

    The fact that the President paid them a surprised visit didn't mean that the press should jump in his throatand ask all mammer of questions.
    He has a job that requires carefully thinking before you say or do anything. Ex-Prez Bush apparently didn't know that.
    Journalism is gradually being distorted to imply that if you're able to make someone goof, then you're the best. Far fron the truth.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  426. Gary

    President Obama will soon learn that the press never takes a break, they are like wolves, sucking blood every chance they get.
    Politico, who's that anyway. You can change there logo's but they are all the same.
    Sorry Wolfe, just my biased opinion.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  427. AJ from Austin TX

    It's fair game, Jack. After all, it was fair when they would ask tough questions of President Bush.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  428. stephen mial

    YES! formal setting for substantive questions have a venue established for that. A mutual resptful relationship should be allowed to exsist where each party respects the definition of and informal interaction versus a formal setting


    Clifton, VA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  429. Patrick

    Sure they can ask, however as soon as the president states that he will answer questions later at the press conferance, they should leave it be and wait.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  430. Brenda, NJ

    It's not unfair of the press to ask a question, substantive or not. It is unfair to expect an answer, just because they're the press. Their right to ask questions, does not mean the President doesn't have some right, which includes not answering a question as he chooses.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  431. eden

    I don't care how "substantive" the question was, there's a time and place for everything, and that moment wasn't IT, period.
    If a man has the decency to come down for a meet and greet, return the decency and stick to meet and greet. You can ask your "substantive" question at the designated time for questions.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |

    There was nothing wrong with the question being asked. That is what the press is for.

    However... once President Obama made it known that he was making a social visit just to say "Hello," common courtesy should have made the questions cease.

    This President is giving the press more attention that anyone in a long time. He is still a human being, the press is, hopefully, comprised of human beings. When you forget that, you are being no better than politicians who can never let politics go long enough to thnk about and fix the big picture in a way that is best for the whole.

    Grow up, people. You are reporters second, human beings first.

    Thanks very much,

    Clearwater, FL

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  433. Suzy, Sabetha Kansas

    Jack, is that question even worth asking?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  434. Dotti Geyer

    Yes, I do think it was a bit unfair to ask questions during this impromptu visit to the press room. His goal was to introduce himself to the members who were present which was a polite gesture. It was a personal visit rather than professional and the reporters took advantage of the situation.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  435. Tiffany Thompson

    It wasn't wrong, Jack. It was just stupid. This type of behavior causes the American people to distrust the press, both the question asked and the reporting of Obama's answer. The President's simple gesture of hospitality has been overshadowed by an egotistical reporter who lacks decorum, respect and humility-something Obama embodies. Watch the video: he wasn't irritated. He was taken aback that a journalist seeking to elevate himself under the guise of getting news for the American people, would be so opportunistic. Just shameless-and shameful.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  436. Kathy

    Yes, I think it was unfair to ask the president a question during an INFORMAL visit to the press office. I know he wants to make himself available for the press, but let him breathe! He needs time to become familiar with his NEW position and the White House press. Tell the truth, does your boss answer your questions right away or must you make an appointment? Show some respect people.

    Kathy from Florida

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  437. Carla Gray

    It wasn't unfair it was stupid in my opinion. He obviously dropped by informally as he explained. This was a time to build rapport not antagonize. Americans want our press to have as much access to our leaders as possible and to act in such a way that they are granted that access, not avoided.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  438. Marilyn

    If the press wan'ts to be thought of in the same vein as 'paparazzi" I say fine, ask any question you want any time you want. If you want to be a respected entity, then please show some respect for the president and allow him to get to know you.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  439. Yvonne from the Caribbean

    Hi Jack – Yes I think the Press was wrong. Understandably they want information but if the President pops in to say hi and to make them comfortable and simply to greet each in an informal and sociable manner, then as curious as the Press is, they should respect that and accept it for what it was. Although he would have had the weight of responsibility on his mind, he would have switched gears simply to interact on a different level with the press who are now making a big deal of it.

    If they are going to want to do business 24 hrs a day then the President should not visit with them informally but only when he wants to have a press conference!!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  440. Donna Rundell

    When the President specifically requested that the moment be kept to the dictates of an "informal visit", it's rude to keep pushing for answers to questions that are meant for an "official" visit. This was an opportunity for the Press corps to meet with the President as regular U.S. citizens. The press often confuses its "job" with "pushing the boundries of rude behavior" and that has been an attitude that has blossomed dramatically during the past 15 years. Let's get back to good journalism ethics and not always be shooting for the "me first to get the best story" trophy. I get the impression that they aren't doing it because the "public has a right to know" but more for their own egos.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  441. Michael A.

    YES! Leave the guy alone! He was trying to extend a hand and build a relationship with you guys. There will be plenty on time for the never ending barage of questions. Why don't we stop looking for the bad and be thankful for what we have. Always the focus on the negative when we need to be looking forward.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  442. Curtis

    Yes it was unfair, it's like my boss screaming my name in the hallway when I am on my break. It's irritating.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  443. Ben

    Was it unfair? No. Journalist ask questions...that's what they do. But my question to the journalist is, are you only interested in the policy of this president? President Obama was giving opportunity for small talk, to maybe get a better understanding into Barack Obama the man....and not just President Obama. By jumping into what he knows, the journalist seemed mechanical. You can program a robot to ask questions. So yes he did his job....but is he doing a great job. Frankly, he missed the boat.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  444. Gary W.

    The White House Press Room is there for the Press to ask the Administration questions. Its their job, and that is why they are there. If Obama shows up in the press room, he should be prepared to do his job and answer their questions, otherwise he shouldn't be there.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  445. Reno McCarthy


    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  446. CAR

    No, it's not unfair to ask the President a question and it's also not unfair for the President to decline to answer in that setting. The press also needs to make some changes in Washington; they'll have their chances to ask questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  447. Joy

    If President Obama emulated his predecessor and was virtually unavailable to the press, then I would say, no, it was not unfair. But the new President seems to make himself available frequently and I think that there should be a time and a place for everything. This was not the right occasion and smacked of bandit journalism.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  448. Maureen Burke-Horansky

    The press should absolutely not have asked President Obama a question when he was kind enough to pay them a call in their quarters. When your doctor comes to visit you, you don't ask him about your goiter. The press has been nit picking him about everything, can't they treat him with some simple manners until he gets some time under his belt? They were ill mannered to say the least but then I live in the south.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  449. Edie

    Give me a break! It was very clearly a casual situation. Why can't the press back off ...let it be what it was meant to be and allow the President the courtesy of meeting all of you, Please show some dignity.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  450. Michelle From Palm Springs

    He did a POP VISIT.. he went in to the room to inroduce hiself and as he said to get to know them .. not to do a press conference, he was nice to them and he said in a nice way he was not there to answer any questions.. so why make a big deal?? He rise to the occasion when he has to, never seem to me that he runs from being questioned.. heck he just got in office.. lets not jump to judgement so soon....

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  451. Randy from Los Angeles

    We the people have the right and obligation to question our government, and the press is there to help us do the asking. PERIOD.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  452. Joe - not a plumber

    No, but it was unreasonable to expect an answer. Reporters who waste time by obsessing over irrelevant trivialities (like the "secret" redo of the Presidential oath, or the use of a recording of the musical performance) should be relegated to the back bench until they learn to focus on meaningful issues and learn not to provoke controversy just to be annoying. Wolf Blitzer is one of the worst offenders.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  453. Miane

    I think this is a stupid subject to blow up. Just like the re-taking of the Oath of Office. Come on now...we must realize at some point that this country is in shambles. Only then will we begin to spend these valuable hours on things that are more important. God forbid the day that these journalists, reporters etc., have issues within their own homes. I'll bet they won't have time for such foolishness then. Report more substantial news, won't you...PLEASE!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  454. Michael from Costa Rica

    No it was not unfair. The reporter should ask questions and this should be reported, but the President in an informal meeting with the press should have the right to limit the scope of any discourse. Reporters should be smart enough to ask the right question at the right time, ambushing an elected official whose word is policy is only lookig for gaff not news. If we wanted paparatzi reporting from the White House E TV would have "BREAKING NEWS"

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  455. Jim, Edison NJ

    The vultures of the press are always ready to pounce on the most benign situation so that can get "their quote of the day." Perhaps it time for the press to return to gathering the news instead of making the news. Is it any wonder that the public as such little respect for reporters. Don't you cringe with disgust when the reporter shoves a microphone into a victim face and inquires "how did you fell when you family member died?"

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  456. Ana in Switzerland

    No it wasn't unfair, but it's rude, and childish to keep asking when he's made it clear that his purpose there is of a different nature.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  457. Richard M, Brooklyn, NY

    It was an unfair question. Reporters were able and will be able questions during a press conference yesterday. They will have further opportunities in the future. In fact, this very question was answered to the best of Obama's Press Secretary at that time. The President should be able to maneuver and have an informal "meet and greet" without being hounded at every opportunity by pesky reporters, some of whom do not have any manners and do not respect any boundaries.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  458. Mary Gorretta

    I think the President was correct in telling the press to ask their questions in the appropriate setting. The people of this country welcome a call to the return of civility, and they do not confuse, as the press so often does, the public's need to know with the almost rabid need the press has to be the first to break a story.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  459. Ali Jobson

    No way should he have asked President Obama that question at that moment. A social call is not a business meeting, even with colleagues, and it requires a bit of tact. The reporter was a bit overeager and took his aggressiveness to the point of rudeness.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  460. cathy ibach

    There is a time and place.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  461. Wendy Feldman

    It's fine for the newspeople to ask... but it's fine and I totally support President Obama in not answering that question. Could people give Pres. Obama a little space please? He has enough on his plate. Just because he is so humane & so in touch with the people... does not give people the right to cross his boundaries. What would they have done (the news people) if George Bush walked in there? Would they have asked? Would George Bush have answered?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  462. Kevin Hoeg

    The President should have mentioned...to pls not ask questions. This is a time for me to get to know you....and you to get to know me. So....no it was not unfair for the reporter to ask a question. Personally there is no one at fault here....and it was handled appropriately.

    Lets move on!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  463. Mark from Oakland

    There was a time when the press not only made substantive allowances for "informal" meetings but politely overlooked matters that were irrelevant and personal (JFK's affairs) or of a nature that was considered out of bounds for other reasons (FDR's wheelchair).

    I understand the pressure faced by members of the press, but believe the 24/7 relentless pressure cooker environment our leaders are placed in as a consequence causes more harm than good in the long run. It forces them to be guarded and cautious at all times and reluctant to say anything that doesn't conform to the sound bite restrictions that best serve them in the news cycles.

    If being 24/7 aggressive reporting yields watered down contrived answers, then I'd have to say that the press is doing the consumers of information a disservice.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  464. Stu Gemmell

    Yes it was unfair, as unfair as it would be throwing Wolf a surprise question, off the subject, in the middle of a live broadcast. For example, "exactly how real was that hologram you did during the election campaign?"

    Bali, Indonesia

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  465. Random Number

    Obama should not have gotten irritated. Every one knows that reporters are rude. What did he expect?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  466. Justin

    I do not think it was unfair of him to ask especially when Obama knew the nature of beasts. He entered the den of hyennas where they will stop at nothing to get a headline. However it was a bit cheeky to ask him this question when it was asked of PS Gibbs earlier in a press conference and I am sure Obama watched Gibbs' presser so I too would be annoyed.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  467. William McClintock

    Of course reporters can ask the President of The United States of America any question they want to at anytime. This is a free society. If the President doesn't want to answer a question that is his perogative. Before he just shows up in front of reporters he ought to inform them he won't be fielding any questions at that time. Good reporters will ask questions anyway and should ask the questions we need answers to. Good questions should never be muted.

    William McClintock

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  468. Carla A

    He was just introducing himself. If they want to have a good relationship with President Obama, then save the questions for press conferences. Be professional. If we want this President to do well, and if the press wants to work with him, let him just say "hello" sometimes. Geez

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  469. RFROBIN

    The question was unfair – I will put in in the context, someone stop by to visit your home say hello and find out how you are doing; And you ask them to clean your house, take out the garbage, wash your car.
    The media seems to think that because they are in the business of asking questions that there no place they cannot go or question they cannot ask. I say the question was inappropriate.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  470. Davey Lenz

    i think that president obama istrying to develop a more informal relationship with everyone, but understands the need for formal times. if the reporters allow him the seperation of these two enviroments then the president may be more open in both situations. In this case the question was in line, this time

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  471. J. R. Llanes

    No it wasn't unfair but it was probably impolite. "Impolite" is a hard word for a newsperson to have in their vocabulary dangerous in the context of of being within shouting distance of the President. This is a very polite and thoughtful President and he has the right to demand the same civility from the press core, not to do would be "press politics as usual" and the american public is probably not interested in that. If I were a journalist in that situation, God forbid, I would ask him how the girls are doing in the new school and just keep it social as the event was intended to be.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  472. Rauf Arain

    No, it was not unfair.
    President Obama is also free not to answer.
    And that was a very diplomatic answer of the President to ask such questions during the press conference but not put such a pressure during a visit like this.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  473. Mike Vallejos

    No, Jack, it wasn't unfair to ask......but it also wasn't unfair for Obama not to answer. His first official press conference should be fun!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  474. Lee MN

    Every profession has a level of etiquette. That includes the press. There is a time and place for everything and that is the reason for the press room sessions defined as a time to ask questions . Do reporters get any training on etiquette?? Jack, even you are more polished than most of them.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  475. steve


    The messiah is either sensitive, thin skinned, clueless, or a combination of the 3.

    And the media adore him – the guy's a joke!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  476. Robens Cheriza / West Palm Beach Fl

    There was nothing unfair about the question since the journalist was doing his job. But the moment was not right. Since it was an unformal visit they should have made the president feel as confortable as possible just so he can stay acessible to them for more important issues in the future ...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  477. Joel

    Was it "unfair"? That question doesn't even make sense. No, it wasn't unfair, but It was rude of the reporter to continue to probe after being given a clear signal that the president was there to be cordial and not to be grilled. President Obama was clearly trying to be engaging and to interact with the media in a new way.

    Now, what about my question? Is this news? NO. Just because you got your little feelings hurt doesn't give you the right to waste news time crying. Get over it and next time the president comes by to say hello, respect the rules that have been laid down.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  478. Linda Banister

    No the question was not appropriate for the circumstances. I imagine the reporter was surprised to see a president "on the press corp's own turf...and making friendly.....been a long long time. Try being cordial...it should come easy since no substantive questioning took place while the former administration allowed the wholesale looting of our country.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  479. Jenna

    Unfair? Maybe not. Face it, he walked into a room filled with reporters, it was going to happen. Although, once he declined to answer any questions, they should have stopped. At that point it is disrespectful. He's the President, not some wayward rock star. Show him some respect. When he says no, listen.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  480. Ryan

    No way Jack! The question was as fair as the response it received.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  481. Pat from Atlanta

    It was rude to the point of obnoxious. Maybe Obama was wrong about reaching out to jerks who have no respect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  482. Kadar Harris

    I don't think it's unfair for President Obama to be asked questions at all ....However I think the reporter was asking questions at the wrong time, it shows a considerable lack of professional decorum .

    January 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  483. Sue Doherty

    Unfair, no. But do you want to make friends, establish trust, etc. ?Perhaps a little tact and patience would have been a good idea. We don't need all the info today.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  484. Lanny Lee from Orlando, FL

    How clearly does the president have to say, "Not right now–chill out"? The first question was fine, but pressing the issue after he's said that he can't stop by for an informal visit if they don't know how to take a break from the constant grilling is just a slap in the face to the president. When did common courtesy become so rare in the practice of journalism?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  485. Sanjay Lewis

    It was unfair. While the President should be ready at any point to answer questions, It was not the time to ask a substantive question. I think that we must remember media ethics and be more respectful and professional. The time was for meet and greet not for a journalist to be grilling the president with questions.

    Sanjay Lewis

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  486. SYED

    Reminds me of a very close friend in a high public office – in our mutual relationship a golden unspoken rule – in personal moments stay away from impersonal talk! Adherence to rule keeps awkwardness out of our relationship! My suggestion to WH press – have a relationship and reserve fair question to the right moments!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  487. Kay Thompson

    There's a time and a place for all things. President Obama must establish boundaries and ground rules.
    Upon the president entering the press room, he stated he was on an informal visit. It should have been treated as such. Questions of serious nature should be held for press conferences.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  488. Tom Diffenbach

    It depends on whether he provides sufficient access at other times for substantive questions and whether you want him to come back at times like this for a relaxed development of relationships. I'm for coverage but, Wolf and Jack, are there no places where a public official can be free of the burden to hold a press conference? Jack, do you want everyone asking you a substantive question when you're in the grocery store? Do you consider a neighbor doctor or lawyer mowing the lawn to be really there to answer your substantive questions? For the first time in sixteen years at least, you now have a President whose words you don't have to parse. Develop a civil relationship.

    Tom Diffenbach
    Harrisburg, PA USA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  489. Matt in Minneapolis

    Why is this even a question? He's the president, if you're going to ask substantive questions of anyone it's him.

    Of course it's fair, it's also fair to expect a real answer. So much for a new era of openness and transparency. I guess it was just a tag line to get elected.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  490. jim

    no....there's a time and place for formal questions...the press should consider getting itself under control before it ruins this country and please do us a favor by reporting the news, quit creating it...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  491. Marilyn

    It's not a question of fair or unfair. I think it was fair for the press corps. to ask any question they want and for the President to reply as he did. He set the rules now for the future. Ask any questions at a press conf. That's what he expects and the press should expect that when he stops by informally, he doesn't want substantive questions. The press may want access to the Pres. 24/7, but they ain't gonna get it! And that's fair.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  492. Angie M.

    Darn right it was okay to ask! His Press secretary didn't answer it on the President's behalf. I think we need an answer from somebody. Besides, when you go into a room full of members of the Press, expect to get asked some questions, especially those that have already been asked but not answered. Good job the journalist that asked the question-again.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  493. Bill Westermeyer

    for crying out loud, guys. first the press gets bent out of shape for no cameras at the re-swearing in, now this. The reporter has every right to ask anything he wants and the President has the right to say "not now".
    you'll have plenty of access compared to Bush. Know the difference between business and pleasure.

    Chapel Hill, NC

    January 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  494. derick

    Jack, I believe it is unfair to attack a visitor. I mean the man was just out to say hi to the press core.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  495. Kathleen Howard DaQuanno

    Yes, and it was rude.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  496. Donna Flood


    The reporter should not have asked President Obama a substantive (that's SUBstantive) question during his recent tour of press quarters. If reporters want an informal relationship with the Leader of the Free World, they need to engage him when the opportunity arises, be friendly and attentive, but back off with difficult questions on such occasions.

    The formal setting of press conferences is the appropriate setting when President Obama is ready for the firestorm and mentally prepared to respond to probing and antagonistic questions.

    Don't mess it up, Press Corps!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  497. Sandra

    Is it fair to grab a physician and ask about a particular pain one has when that physician has just stepped out into the waiting room to greet his patients in a general and friendly way? Is it fair to ask a professor about a particular comment he had in a lecture that week when he is in the cafeteria for a friendly conversation with students? Is it fair to take issue with something in a minister's sermon during a church social?

    I truly think that there is a time and a place to deal with professionals and the implementation of their profession. I certainly would not want to have my professional skills called upon in a strictly social situation. I would not be ready to respond professionally and feel it would be unfair to take advantage of the fact that my mindset is in a different place. It is inappropriate, rude and was basically an unprofessional action on the part of that journalist.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  498. Patrick Jean Baptiste

    Asking the substantive question was not unfair. He is the president of the United States. Everything should be fair game. If he didn't want to be asked questions, then he shouldn't have ran for the presidency. Besides, the question wasn't even that substantive. It was a run of the mill question that any lousy reporter could have asked.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  499. Inad Haddad, Adrian, Michigan

    No it's not.. And they should ask the hard questions whenever they have the chance.. It's up to him to decide if he answers them at that time.. At least it forces him to prepare , or the next opportunity... And if he has the answer, he will shine and take credit for it...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  500. Brett in Florida

    Obama should know that the White House Press Room is fair game for questions at all times. They are reporters, what did he think they would do? The question was very lagit, as an advit Obama supporter, I have been inspired by almost all the decisions he has made so far, except this matter of Deputy DoD Secretary. This is the first red flag in my opinion, that he set his own rules against hiring lobbyist, which I agree with, but his top hire at the DoD comes right out of the lobby. As brilliant as he is, how is it that Obama can not find somebody, who will probably be Secretary of Defense in about a year, who is and was not a defense lobbyist??

    BTW, I am a huge fan of Wolf and Jack, I watch almost every day and this is the first question that has motivated me to write in, keep up the GREAT reporting guys, keep them accountable!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  501. Sue/ATL

    Jack it is absolutely unfair! But isn't it nice that our President actually took the time to casually meet these reporters and wanted to check out their work space??

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  502. Evelyn

    No it was not inappropriate for the reporter to ask Obama a tough question. Obama should expect tough questions and be able to answer them. Transparency of the hypocrosy!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  503. Phil Coventry

    No, it was not unfair. However, neither was Obama's refusal to respond. Reporters need to try to get information when they can, but at the same time they have to realize that there are times when they have to respect a situation or refusal. It would have been unfair only had they continued to press and spoil a spontaneous good will visit.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  504. Brenton FROM Dominica

    Obama was too ambitious. He was trying to befriend the media but journalists don't have friends when it comes to their work. He will know better next time

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  505. Patricia E. Chitty

    It is my observation that reporters,in general, are rather rude people. You respect no boundaries and you sometimes show questionable ethics., especially if you are after a story.
    If you have a question for anyone, there really is a time and place. If someone stops in to tell you hello or ask how you are doing, your manners should kick in and realize that that is neither the time or place to begin an inquisition.
    If I were the President, I peronally would stay as far away as possible from all of you until you learn some manners and how and when to go after your story. You are your own worst enemies.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  506. Enna

    Yes it was unfair. President Obama made a polite social visit to the press room, not a press conference. Reporters please save your substantive questions for the official press conferences. Please address him as President Obama, not Obama. As the expression goes, some of those reporters showed a "lack of home training,"

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  507. LaTosha

    It is a reporter's job to ask tough questions–but there is a time and place for everything. An informal meet and greet is not the time. That reporter was totally unprofessional. How many other President's have come down to greet reporters the way he did? I don't recall any. Don't be surprised if that is the last time you see him in the press room. Way to ruin it for everyone else.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  508. Christy-anne

    Yes it was unfair. He was there just to be courteous and as always you cut throat reporters was trying to throw him into your doom of H E double hockey sticks. Just kidding but He's only been in Office for three days. I am sure when he straightens whatever he needs to straighten out he will gladly answer all of your "gotcha" questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |

    There is no such thing as unfair when it comes to the media. He did just what he should have done by telling them why he came there. He could have answered the question if he chose to, but he didn't. People have to remember, including Palin, that the media is not your friend and never will be. Any chance they get to catch you off guard and break you down they will. So a word to the wise, just smile and say no comment if you do not want to answer them. In the end, you will be respected and not on every television station being quoted for saying the wrong thing and in some case the right thing.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  510. Fritz

    Yes, That's what a press conference is for. Have some respect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  511. Barbara in Boston, Massachusetts

    Yes, it was unfair for a member of the press to sneak in policy questions during Obama's friendly gesture to visit the press room. Obama was making the effort to get to know press members on a more personal level. Obama was showing his friendliness and good faith, and the press member was only showing greed and self-interest, to further his own career, when he could easily have grilled Obama at a press conference.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  512. John Carden

    The press is so used to being pushy- even obnoxious- justifying it as part of their job. President Obama appears to value simple decency and respect so it might be time for these reporters to change their attitude- Barack is a person, not prey.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  513. Heinz B Tomis

    yes it was unfair and rude to attack president Obama with qestions on a informal visit , and the journalist should be ashamed , the president should call the journalist Mother , and tell her that he is shipping her son back to her wrapped in a diaper ,
    so she can teach him again about common behaviour and politeness , shame on that journalist , it was a informal greeting meeting and not a pressconference .

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  514. Harv Putterbaugh

    Portland Maine

    Not so much unfair as boringly rude and significantly irrelevant.

    Once the man said he was there informally, the cowboys and entertainment reporters should respect that and the office, if not the man. It is this type of disrespect and rudeness that prevents a public viewing of our President without a bunch of hacks trying to impress their mothers by showing they asked a "tough" question that reached TV.

    Even the intellectual wasteland populated by television talking heads and politically correct weather women jacking opinions instead of merely reporting will probably convince this President any desire to provide transparency is significantly crippled by a self-serving, time filling, professionally bankrupt television "news" corps.

    Jobs for the economy? How about real newspersons.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  515. Sherri

    Maybe not unfair, but stupid. It was obvious President Obama was there to establish a good rapport with the members of the press core and not make any formal statements about anything. A lesson in etiquette might have helped. You don't get a second chance at a first impression, so in my opinion this guy blew it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  516. Richard M, Brooklyn, NY

    It was an unfair question. Reporters were able to ask questions during a press conference yesterday with Mr. Obama's Press Secretary. In fact, he answered this question to the best of his ability. They will have further opportunities in the future. The President should be able to maneuver and have an informal “meet and greet” without being hounded at every opportunity by pesky reporters, some of whom do not have any manners and do not respect any boundaries.

    (edited and corrected)

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  517. Tony L........Oregon

    Yes, the question was way out of line. President Obama has been all work since he was elected, so a "meet and greet" session should have been respected by the news media.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  518. Leah Amir

    Yes a substantive question was unfair. Every meeting with an executive is defined by the topics to be discussed – we all know this. If you wish to dicuss another unrelaed topic you need to request anotehr meeting. This is the practice of any corporate executive. Shouldn't the President be treated with the decorum afforded any other corporate executive. By the way – as a US consumer I am tired of the media acting as if all they report is the TRUTH – Keep in mind it is the TRUTH as clouded by you and your executvie staff using information to grow market share.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  519. Austin

    Unfair? No. Disrespectful? Extremely. When the president informed the reporter that this was an informal visit and there would be time for questions later, he persisted as if he could bully the POTUS. I found him rude. I did not vote for President Bush and I did not agree with any of his policies but always believed him deserving of the respect of POTUS.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  520. H M Blacker

    Yes it was unfair and utterly inappropriate. Obama has already made himself available for any questions reporters might ask. His visit to the pressroom was clearly inappropriate. Reporters - including Wolf Blitzer - since he voiced his agreement with the questioning - can be royal pains in the ass.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  521. platinumgeek

    it depends on who's asking the question.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  522. DSL1

    You press people amaze me. When you are interviewing an individual on your show, you will cut them off in the middle of their response because of time constraints, yet you expect the President of the United States, Oboma, to answer all your questions without regard to his Presidential schedule. Get real and realize that he cannot answer everything you want answered when YOU want it answered because he does have previously arranged appointments.

    You also get upset when the President is late for his appointments even when the tardiness was caused by the press. When are you happy? Can The President get a time warp machine or something so you all will be happy? Someone hurry up and invent that machine for Oboma so he can continue to make everyone happy.

    I am more than happy that we finally have a President who really seems to care about us "Little People" so give him some lea way on doing his job.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  523. Bill Wilbur

    Yes, It's about time the press corps asked him some tough questions. The love affair is over. The left had no problems with media bias during the campain. How quickly the tables turn. It's time to show us he's not just a stuffed shirt.

    Bill, Cape Cod, MA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  524. Tony Hughes

    No, I dont think it was unfair for the reporter to ask the president a question. He/She was just doing their job. However, if President Obama prefaced the meeting by saying he would hold a press conference later to answer questions and that he just wanted to get to know the press, the question should have been asked during the press conference. If someone is a guest in your home, regardless of what you invited them there for, you want to make them feel as comfortable as possible, which is what our commander in chief intended to do.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  525. Lucy Schelle

    I think you news reporters should be glad that you have someone like President Obama in the White House, someone who is willing to be more open with you. You will push him until he tightens up like every president in the past.

    Allow him to get to know you and make social visits without demands from the press and he will open up even more.

    Don't ruin a good thing – the press was rude to press him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  526. Greg Garrison Riverside, CA.

    What the liberal media has failed to understand is that they were President Obama's biggest and most productive lobbyist.
    Uh-oh, Situation Room you have a problem.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  527. MAUREEN

    Is there any topic that is safe from analysis by you guys?
    The answer to the question you pose is no.
    The President gave his answer and moved on.
    Had he answered it there, the media would have then found some way to find fault with not being notified of the visit,no cameras available and on and on...
    Do you think you can learn to recognize the meaning of a well-intentioned move without turning it into a discussion?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  528. Bev Pizzano

    Seemed obvious to me that this impromptu an opportunity for the reporters and the President's to have a casual informal moment together. Unfortunately, some of the reporters felt that they were still on the clock and had a duty to push for comments.

    Realizing from the first response that the line of questions would not get answered, they all should have figured this out. It's the hallway, it's a casual meeting, it's a moment to meet and greet.

    They still don't know this President.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  529. cathy ibach

    Yes....There is a proper time...
    The president handled it well.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  530. Patricia - Houston

    NO, I do not think it was fair; he only went to meet and greet the people. It was not a "press conference".

    January 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  531. Chris

    Ah— come on and play nice...as long as reporters have access to President Obama at regular press conferences, I think a thoughful visit to their office should be just that.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  532. Vicki

    I think INAPPROPRIATE is a better word than UNFAIR. Come on! The press has the right to the information, but they shouldn't try to control the president's time or schedule. Transparency doesn't necessarily mean 100% availability 100% of the time – it means that information will not be kept secret or hidden.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  533. La Vergne - California

    Unfair? No. Inappropriate? Yes. Once the President indicates that he will not address that question in this informal venue, move on to something else or be quiet.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  534. Beverly Van Citters

    If we truly have a transparent administration then 'no' , the question was fine to ask. All the President needed to say was "I am not prepared to respond to your question at this moment in this informal venue but I will answer in a more formal press venue in the future". The President is well prepared, thorough and does his homework. For him to comment on something so random without adequate preparation, documentation, quotes, etc. is excusable.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  535. Roger Beck

    If it had been a substantive question instead of a "gotcha", I'd have more respect for *the press*. The place for questions of substance is the Daily Press Briefing, not when the President is making the social rounds during his first week.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  536. Francisca James

    Yes, I think it was improper for that reporter to ask the president a substantive question. The president wanted to acquaint himself with the press room and familiarize himself with the reporters. The purpose of the visit was not to conduct a question and answer session that is what press conferences are for.

    As much as I like the news, I am a "news junkie" I find many reporters to be obtrusive and abusive and they have no sense of respect or boundaries.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  537. John Cohn

    The reporter on the Lobbyist question was playing the "gotcha" game.

    For me, that person would be on the "do not call list" Any dirty trtick for a headline. Shame on the reporter.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  538. Emma SLO,CA

    Was substantive question unfair?
    Yes, yes, yes Jack! The new President "shows up" to the press room "unannounced" to be open and friendly and instead of giving him respect, Politico asked a policy question!
    You reporters are like vultures....looking for any scrap to exaggerate...........it's pathetic Jack.
    Too bad one guy ruined it for the rest in the press room..........
    President Obama was just trying to be "open and friendly" but for some reason you guys can't handle the change!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  539. Rodger , Alberta, Canada

    Let me say No. But if the each time the president wants to have light moment, you what to pick up a fight with him, he will be like Bush and you would never see him again.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  540. Chuck

    It's a new era of information freedom and sharing with press by the President. Come on, folks. Give the guy a break. It's only been a day!!!!

    1) This just makes the press corps seem desperately frantic

    2) It's an adjustment from the Bush era of secrecy. This should allow the press to RELAX and not seem like cheap showbiz papparazzi fighting for the latest tidbit.

    You guys are professionals....... aren't you? Well, act like it!


    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  541. Lisa from Massachusetts

    Yes, I feel it was unfair. One would think the reporter would appreciate that President Obama did make this informal visit and recognize it as a very courteous/open gesture.. Apparently the reporter is just out for a story and has no regard for tact. As others have stated, the reporter acted like a "vulture".

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  542. Milton Ervin

    I think all questions should be addressed in a formal setting arranged by the press and committees involved that address issues in a constructive, open format. When you start getting questions and answers in basements and closets, you begin to get an administration that is off-the record, for the sake of a personal point, in achieving a story.

    Transparency would entail making sure the American people are present by some form of media to witness questions and answers regarding the direction of the country. This will eliminate the possibility of mixed stories from the press room basement that changed once it reached rose garden. Give the president some room to gather and reflect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  543. David Straughn

    Of course not Jack!

    How could you expect to jump into a lion's den during feeding time, smelling like fresh meat and not expect to be bitten.

    I'm sure the President was neither phased nor angered by this light jab and would've rolled with it easily.

    He knows the gloves are off and we WILL give the response we need; not the knee-jerk response that reporters would love and then sensationalize.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  544. Mary Catherine

    No, it was not "unfair" to ask the question, it was ill-mannered as there is a time and place for business, and this was obviously not it. That our fourth estate has lost touch with what is appropriate and when, is a major contributer to the loss of focus on the real issues facing this nation.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  545. Alvin

    Yes it was unfair. He told them it was a social visit. They liked that! Look at them. But if they don't let him make social calls, he won't make social calls.

    Cm'on Wolf, I know this is hard for you to absorb, but not everything is business.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  546. Mary Ann CT

    Yes it was unfair..Give the guy a break... He is just trying to feel his way around and say Hello.. Don't ruin a good thing!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  547. Melinda


    The press can decide if they want the President to stop by from time to time or if they want him to keep his distance. It is more likely you all will get more from him if he thinks he isn't going to be pushed into it. You all will get nothing if he decides it isn't worth the hassle. Friends share little details, do the press want them?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  548. Veronica

    No, it wasn't unfair for the journalist to ask the question, but since the circumstances of the President's visit were clear, it also wasn't unfair for the President NOT to answer the question. He let them know that he'd answer their substantive questions at the appropriate time. I would think the journalists would see the value of having "down time" moments with such a popular President . Many are still very interested in what he does when he isn't being the President.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  549. david dial

    I don't see how fair enters into it. The reporter took his shot at a time the President felt was inappropriate and the President told him so in no uncertain terms. That is what all big dogs do when the little yappers start to annoy them.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  550. Larry

    I believe that the Press should have allowed the meeting to remain informal. President Obama campaigned on a promise to bring change to Washington and to the White House. If the Obama is willing to establish a new relationship between the White House and the Press Corps, then an informal meeting void of grilling would be an excellent first impression. After all, you can only make a good first impression once. I hope the Press will not be the ones to leave a bad first impression on the President. If they do, they are going to have a long 4 years ahead of them.

    Toronto, Canada

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  551. Ann

    Yes...He did handle it well though

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  552. Nels from Houghton in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

    Cut the guy some slack. He was making a friendly "social" call to some of the people who are employed because of the political openness of the USA.
    President Obama (whom I didn't vote for) seems to be conducting himself in a impressive manner as the president and he should be shown some respect in such a situation.
    In an announced formal press conference they (the unrelenting media) can unleash their usual "go for the jugular" type of question but not during a friendly social call the 3rd day on the job!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  553. andy stubbers

    Had he not deflected questions the loudest, most physically agressive in the media (I'm sure there are other kinds, somewhere)would have paparazzied the President. Isn't our media paprazzied enough? A BBC fan of respect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  554. Roderick Sevilla

    Hey Jack,

    Etiquette is a lost mannerism. Just because a journalist has to be a wolf dosen't mean you have to blitz someone who's new on the block. These journalist must have lost courtiousness while dealing with the Texas approach from the last administration. Just rude.

    el don Rodigo,
    San Jose, CA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  555. Denise in Italy

    Asking Pres. Obama a substantive question during an informal visit may not be unfair, it's simply bad form and as a viewer, watching giornalists who don't adher to a sense of appropriateness isn't just annoying, it's obnoxious. I've watched in the last couple of days as some of you, in the interest of asking supposedly substantive questions have gotten pushy, overly penetrating & downright petulant. It comes across as combative and I think we've all had enough of that.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  556. Leonard

    Think if he went to congratulate one of the press people would it be appropriate to ask a 'substantive question'? If he was in the restroom would it be appropriate? The press needs to realize that everyone is not 'on' just because they want them to be. Sometimes people take a break from solving the world's problems to enjoy the world they are trying to save. The press is to impressed with themselves to understand that they are not the bosses.

    The press has a job to do that they haven't done for some time now. Research and investigate, not just ask questions. Maybe they have forgotten.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  557. Leslie

    Yes, the substantive question was unfair. Pres. Obama is entitled to draw a line between work and play and we, including the press, should respect this line. The question should be, "Is the white house press core jurnalists or poparazzi? "

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  558. M T Best

    It was an informal moment the reporter should have shown more class.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  559. ROY HUNT

    YES! YES! YES! There is a time and a place. A casual visit is not the time or place to conduct business. I would think the reporters should have been glad to have the President stop to say hello and have the courtesy not to ask such questions. In regards to Wolf's statement, I ask, Wolf Blitzer don't you, yourself, enjoy some casual time?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  560. Pres. Obama’s press room visit: Was substantive question unfair?

    Yes it was unfair; that is why press conferences are held. I understand the reporter's zeal in doing his job, but he got a strong response from the president indicating that his question was not
    appreciated! Perhaps he'll think before pushing the issue twice in the future.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  561. Orland

    Simply put YES. The question was unfair. It was not an official function and the president indicated to everyone there he just stopped in to say hello. He has a press secretary available to reporters and any questions can be funneled there or through Q&A's when held. If the reporter in question didn't get thier question answered through those mechanism then it was not appropriate to try to get it out of the president at this "personal" visit to introduce and say hello.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  562. Steven

    It is not only unfair it shows a lack of consideration. If the President is willing to be "social" for a visit with the Press then the favor should be returned in kind. No one can live under constant scrutiny and President Obama is no exception. The Press needs to cut him some slack...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  563. Nicolás Ramos

    He is the President. When walking into a press room he should expect journalists will do their work. Asking questions is how work is done in a press room. Very few people understand that when journalists are around you are never off the record. It is not unfair. The journalists are just doing their work.

    Nicolás Ramos
    San Juan, Puerto Rico

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  564. Kathy W.

    Everyone need to take a deep breath. The President has been in office for three days! The press seens to think the promise of transparency entitles them to sit next to the desk in the oval office. Get a grip! Where were all of you while the neo-cons were wrecking this country!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  565. David D Hansen

    About the second time the reporter ask the question he should of been back hand.
    You can tell Wolf Blitzer to keep his comment to him self as I can make my own judgement calls.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  566. Janine

    It was not unfair that the reporter asked "a" substantive question during President Obama's informal visit. However, after the President stated that this was not the appropriate time for such a question, the reporter pressed further with his questioning. This second question was very disrespectful on the reporter's part. I hope that President Obama will one day decide to hold Q&A sessions with the press, himself, but in the meantime let's respect the President's preferences for his unscheduled, informal visits.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  567. BandedFromRecess

    Its like "give me a minute" please. President Obama made an informal visit. It’s all about protocol and courtesy. The reporters should have ask, "May we ask you a question?" and leave it up to President Obama to want to answer them. I think the press club has to learn that there is a new sheriff in town and they won't be able to bombard him at will. THIS President will always be in control. They need to learn not to be be rude.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  568. Pam H

    Very unfair. I did not want to hear the badgering involving the "serious" question at that moment. Obama was doing a gracious act and the reporter needed to show some grace in return. Showing manners would have been a more appropriate and more satisfying event for me to watch. The reporter needed to be a “regular human" and treat the visit as the special moment that it was.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  569. Matt Hardy

    The search for the truth that the first amendment is designed to encourage is considered by our courts to be so important to our democracy that there is really no restraint on reporter's comments, questions or other conduct other than their own individual sense of decency and integrity–which- for much of the American press–is no restraint at all. The stories that reporters seem to like the most are usually negative stories that make public people look bad. Notice that the story here is the reporter's question itself and whether it makes Obama look bad. Who the hell cares–there's a serious economic crisis going on here and we would all be better off if the press could find some people to ask questions who have the intelligence and integrity to help us all make sense of it–instead of just trying to tear everybody down to their size.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  570. Carol in Georgia

    The first amendment gives us freedom of speech, therefore the question is not unfair. The reporter has the right to ask any question he seems fit, but the President also has the right to refuse to answer the question at the time. He gave you an answer that there would be a press conference on the question and that's when it would be addressed. Time to back off and wait instead of being a jerk and pushing it. Let him say hi informally and get to know the program......you'll get the answer in due time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  571. Judi Roberts

    None of us want to be "what we do" 24/7. Asking the question was inappropriate. If it happens again it is unprofessional and jeopardizes informal visits between the Pres. and the press room.
    This is like a doctor being cornered at a cocktail party about someone's pain and symtoms!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  572. Sophia

    I wouldn't say it was "unfair" to ask the question. However, I do think that having to wait until a scheduled time to ask such a question is not unfair either. The President just wanted to have an informal visit, and did say he would answer the question, just not then. There is a time and a place for everything and sometimes reporters just come off as disrespectful and inconsiderate.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  573. Elly K

    There is a time and place for everything and the reporter must respect our president and be grateful that he took time out of his busy schedule to sincerely meet the press.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  574. Sharon

    Yes it was incorrect for the press to hound President Obama. It was an informal, impromtu visit to the press room and not the approriate forum for asking questions related to politics. Sometimes the prees people act like vultures. They need to proper decorum and have some respect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  575. James Leonard

    Not unfair, just plain rude. Yes he's the prez and on the job 24/7 . He vistited with the press to get a feel for how their world works in order to try and interact more effectively not for questions. That comes all the time. i bet there's one reporter who will get very few answers the next four years no matter how many questions he asks.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  576. j/NJ

    Was it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

    Not unfair perhaps ill timed, in any event it is the presidents's call after all, he stated his intent which the press should be mindful of in the future...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  577. Nate in Idaho

    Keep them coming reporters, the best way to keep the "transparency" that Obama is talking about its to ask questions on every chance you get. Think about it ... if you are going to the offices of the press, to meet reporters, don't get upset when there are QUESTIONS asked.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  578. Todd

    The answer to your question Jack, is no, it was not an unfair question. But neither was his response. As the President said, he came down in an informal visit to meet the press. He was put on the spot and asked about a major policy issue by a "journalist" who saw an opportunity to take advantage of the situaion and practice a paparazzi style brand of journalism. Pres. Obama deftly handled the question because the forum was not intended or appropriate for that subject. The question that maybe should be asked is: Is it appropriate for a press group that has demonstrated less than stellar vigilance of the past administration to ask a question about a major policy decision in an informal meeting that was intended to start the future relationship of the President and the press witha healthy dose of the human element ?

    Todd in Waynesboro, PA

    January 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  579. david dial

    Unfair??? How does fairness have anything to do with it? If you guys are going to act like a pack of yapping mongrels you have to expect the big dog to put your tails between your legs every so often.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  580. Bob in Ontario

    Whoops, Wolf is wrong. When the President stops by to say "hello", the reporter should have said hello back. When Wolf's friends stop by for a coffee or a burger, is Wolf expected to provide a 3-hour news report?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  581. Richard Cardwell

    Absolutely! The press has an over-inflated opinion of itself and thinks it is more important than the office of the President. Can they not wait until an appropriate venue is in place? If they think they have the right to ask, would they deny him the right to refuse.

    North Wilkesboro, NC

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  582. Paul Kriegler

    A good reporter knows when, and when not , to ask a question.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  583. Sherri

    The press will always ask questions at off times without consideration.....Free speech and all!! He should be referred to as President Obama....Not Mr. Obama or Obama!! Give respect to a man who has earned it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  584. Rick

    I am certain there is a certain protocol that should have been followed but I think this goes with the territory. I also have substantive questions after only 3 days in office on a variety of issues. A stimulus plan that isn't stimulative, a government transparency announcement that isn't and numerous changes in our war on terror that only handcuffs our field personnel which isn't making me feel safer. Maybe this isn't the guy I voted for.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  585. maureen caughran

    Do you remember the last time you started a new job? The first week or so is exhausting. And that's a normal job. Give Obama a break. No, he shouldn't have had to answer press conference-type questions. He was just connecting to the press–and should be commended for it!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  586. Harry Lime

    From the looks of the answers, about half or more people think the questions are unfair. About the same number make some reference or comparison to Bush. Please, people, what's wrong with you.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  587. Bruce

    Note unfair at all. Pretty naive to think you could just stop by for a visit.
    There job is to ask questions, his job is to answer them. Geez, two days in office and he hasn't figured all this out yet?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  588. M.Love

    Not unfair...naive maybe. But reporters ask questions for a living. They can't be expected to turn off that impulse just because the situation or context isn't right.

    And the president had every right to handle exactly as he did. It was like being grillled by a cop when all you wanted was directions to the mall.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  589. Bill

    I don't believe that asking a substantive question of President Obama was unfair; Afterall, he did walk into the Press Room. What was unfair, however, was pressing the issue once Mr. Obama indicated that he had no desire to be grilled about it. This was not the proper venue for such actions. This was merely an informal meeting with the White House Press Corps.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  590. Yoly DeAngelis

    It is my view that President Obama's visit to the press room was informal. More like a meet and greet when you first move into the neighborhood. I agree with President Obama that he clearly tried to define his boundaries with the reporter. I respect the reporter's need to get his job done, however, there is a time and place for everything and just because you are a reporter does not give you the right to be rude. If you review the tape of this encounter between the reporter and the President, if the President appeared to be irritated, it was only after his first communication was completely ignored by the reporter. I doubt that we Americans have to be entertained by rude performances by reporters.The reporter was not denied an answer, rather he was told that there would be a time and place for Q and A just not at this informal visit. I worry that reporters get so wrapped up in their own agendas that in the process they alienate not only the people they interview, however, certainly those of us who have to witness the disrespect and rudeness. How can we teach our children about boundaries when full grown adults lack the fundamental understanding of "there is a time and place for everything." In case others wrap themselves with the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) as the JUSTIFICATION for the encounter we witnessed, I really believe it would be like mixing apples and oranges.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  591. Chelsea

    Yes it was. I like watching the news and have nothing against journalist, but sometimes you guys can't turn yourselves off. That was a prime example of a situation that was carefree and a journalist turning it into a tense, uncomfortable situation. The politico guy should have backed off. The media can be your best friend and your worst enemy who stabs you in the back and sleeps with your boyfriend or girlfriend at the same time. Shame look what you guys did to Caroline Kennedy.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  592. Greg (St. Croix)

    I think that the questioning was unfair. They should have just appreciated the fact that he took the time to come by to visit them to introduce himself officially and to also say hi. I love the media, but please understand, he is still feeling his way around the White House and there will be many days ahead to grill him on issues of great concerns such as the one asked.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  593. Harry Lime

    What do you watch the news for anyway?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  594. Greg Walter

    Yes It was unfair. He was there to meet people and check out the "space."
    If we do not let him have his time and place to answer tough questions he will become a recluse like most all our leaders.
    AND Jack you do not look that happy today. ?
    Greg in Montana

    January 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  595. gloria21213

    It was not unfair to ask questions, but President Obama made it clear he was there to meet the press. When the media trys to impress, they sometime make a fool out of themselves. Chuck Todd tries it, like he wants an answer now and he wants it right away. He's just trying to make a big name for himself and expand his career. He make me sick sometimes with his tactic. You can see the ones in the media that are trying to get brownie points. Alot of viewers are sick of the media. They can cut some of their jobs like everyone's else is being cut. I'm sick of the stupid questions that they ask. Give us a break.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  596. marty

    ok...we (united sates) have taken the big step on race,now can we do something about eliminating the "call" for demorcrats and republicans????we are one nation with one leader, can't we act that way and get the job done insted of fighting and questioning each parties "wants"?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  597. Veronica

    uncomfortable questions...it comes with the job. I voted for Obama and will vote for him again but questions will be asked at every opportunity. Get use to it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  598. George Zavala

    Of course, it is unfair. If a politician is taken to task everytime he says one thing and does another, how in the world can that politician go about making change and creating hope?

    Houston, TX

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  599. Curtis

    Sure Jack, it was fair, however, it was just as fair for him not to answer any questions. He has scheduled times for the Press.

    Just because the Press feels embarrassed by former President Bush, because they didn't pressure him as they should have after 911, doesn't mean you should make up for it by criticizing President Obama's every move.

    Give him a chance!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  600. Francisco Jimenez

    Jack, just out of curiosity "WHAT WOULD U DO ",

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  601. Ann Newcomb

    Yes it was unfair. Can't members of the press be adult enough, civil enough, to grant some neutral ground? If they don't have enough faith in their own abilities and continue to hound Obama like a bunch of paparrazi, he's likely to develop the same bunker mentality that afflicted Bush, and then they and the public will get nothing.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  602. Michael

    Ofcourse not. Obama should expect questions everywhere he goes, informal or not. But I also believe he has the right to plead the fifth in those situations.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  603. Samy


    Give the guy a break, stopping by, in person, to say hello and look around is pretty damn cool. How many previous presidents have done that? It was an impromptu visit and frankly as a reporter I would love to see more of it. What, are we now going to hound him everytime he shows us his normal, everyday, human side? The reporter who asked that question should have been thrilled that we finally have a Commander in Chief who is approachable and savored the moment. Instead he acted like the nerdy guy at school who couldn't get his nose out of the books long enough to see someone cool was actually paying attention to him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  604. Andres

    No, Jack. I don't think it was appropriate. Obama has the eyes of the world fixed on him, but that shouldn't be taken by the press as an invite to treat the man like a 7-Eleven. He's got enough on his plate as it is.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  605. David James

    No, it's not unfair to ask the president a question about official business during an informal visit to the press corp, but it's unfair to expect an answer. Such questions should be answered only in an official press conference where all members of the corp are present, not just a few, and the public hears the direct answers rather than what one or two reporters want us to hear.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  606. Jeus and Donna

    While we agree that it is you all's job to ask questions, so that each News Media organization can be first to gets some answere; we in this case however feel that you guys are showing no respect to the President. This was an informal meeting which you you should have held up on your questions. After all he was being being kind and try-
    to get your respect. How would you feel if your kids asked you questions while you were trying to kindly greet them, you all would get irriated and say something not so nice.
    Olathe, Ks.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  607. Samuel K. Sower

    The "substantive" question was not unfair, but was RUDE! The electronic (and print) journalists are like predators circling their prey. It was more than reasonable that Mr. Obama did not wish to answer the reporter's question at that time. Journalists continual arrogance is both annoying and embarrassing. Please be courteous during interviews and press conferences. Don't be so darn sensitive because someone is not responding to questions. I think all you reporters should go back to grade school to be taught good manners!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  608. Jorge

    No! It was not the right time to ask the question, he was going into an informal meeting to welcome reporters and not to Q&A session. But please get the fox news reporters out of the press they do not like President Obama anyways. Reporters please Hold your horses and give him some space, it is his first week in the job! Give me a brake!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  609. Reggie Drew

    Anytime the press has a chance to ask a question they will do it, it’s their job, so it’s not unfair. Likewise it’s not unfair for the President to set boundaries as to when and where questions will be answered. His impromptu visit did not have time scheduled for a Q&A. Answering one question would lead to a round of other questions side tracking him from his purpose to say hello and get a first hand feel about the press room.

    El Dorado Hills, Califronia

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  610. Fresh Prince

    If we wish to continue enjoying the benefits of having access to the president and transparency of the administration the media and the American public must be fair and reasonable. I do not believe that any Presidency or Administration can indefinitely sustain the level of enquirers being made at this time. As a new president I believe that Obama would serve us better by using his intellect and judgment to address the many pressing issues facing our nation rather than determining how to deal with the American publics insatiable appetite for news and entertainment.

    I am not saying that the public does not have a right to know what is going on and why but I do believe that if we are not reasonable we will soon be seeing less of the President and receiving less frequent updates about what the administration is doing.

    Fresh Prince

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  611. Jonathan

    hey first of all i usually love your show...quickfire, informative, to the point. but im detecting a change of tone already. this is what pres obama has been talking about. the cynicism. only 3 days into his presidency and you're already insinuating, being cynical, dubious. i know your doing your job, but, obama's about change. how about a little change in journalism too. . it's only been 3 days and he's already hit the ground running. he can't do everything in one week of office, give. him time. a little less cynicism. a little more gd faith. the way the media portrays him may affect his political capital, esp internationallly. thanks

    January 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  612. Jerry Hessel


    I think the reporter had the perogative to ask anything he wanted to to the President in that informal setting. That's what reporters do. On the same token the President had the perogative not to answer the question in that informal setting. That's what Presidents do. Remember when President Reagan avoided questions with his hand to his ear as he walked from the White House to the helicopter and back, jestering he didn't hear what the reporter was saying? That was most effective. He avoided any confrontation with the press with that tactic. President Obama needs to find some gimmick that works for him or maybe just answer the question.

    Jerry Hessel
    Allentown, pa

    January 23, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  613. Jake

    The reporter was doing is his job.Tell the president to grow a pair of balls and deal with it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  614. John in Rohnert Park

    Well Wolf is sadly dead wrong on this one Jack. The President merely wanted to periodically come and chat with them informally so that he could get to know them better and they could get to know him better. They as reporters would have learned a great deal more about Obama "the man" through those sessions. However, if some of them are going to foolishly demonstrate a ridiculous "inability" to turn off the running work meter just for a few minutes then THEY are going to cause them all to miss out on an opportunity.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  615. Dan

    What about "informal" doesn't the news media understand?

    The president is new and getting acquainted with his new home and I think he is handling being "In The Bubble" just fine but let's face it Jack, if you got up in your own home to go to another room would you like people jumping all over you with questions?

    I think news media need for discretion is very important.

    Dan AZ.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  616. jim dutton

    It is not unfair to ask a question, but if you don't get the answer you are
    looking for save it for the next news conference. Don't chase away
    something new he did. Hope he will "pop in" again.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  617. Bill from Maine

    Unfair isn't the word, Jack, it' s just downright inconsiderate. Clearly the new President wants to be the kind of guy who drops by and introduces himself to the press. When was the last time a President did that? Maybe I've got it wrong, but I doubt you saw that in the past eight years. I realize some members of the press are overeager to show themselves as somehow capable of exerting power by taking advantage of a situation and that's unfortunate. But if I was that reporter's supervisor, I'd have him or her working the dog pound beat for a couple weeks to remind them what it means to represent my news organization and how to show just a little bit more consideration when someone like the President takes the time to introduce himself to you. Obviously, this individual had very poor upbringing as my late mother would say.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  618. Andre Theman

    Of course, substantive questions are always appropriate at any time the president wades into a sea of press people. Especially right at this time – so close to all the new changes. I am a 100% Obama fan, but this is evidence of a relative neophyte that needs to get used to the microscope he'll be under.

    This pop in was obviously a somewhat slick ploy to try to schmooz (sp) the press and get them on your side as a friendly, accessible good guy, but I'm sure Mr. Obama knows he cannot control what questions are asked, nor when. If not, he needs to get advice. I'd be happy to use so of my community service pledge time to offer free advice: The quicker he looks like he's not trying to make the press sit, stay, or rollover like the incoming first pooch, the happier he'll be.

    Now, in the past, what I have never been a fan of, are the photo ops that some grass roots organization has struggled to set up to have the President attend, and the event it gets completely overshadowed by questions on a matter that is more rumor and scandal phishing then substantive, and that have been asked over and over at every other opportunity, when meanwhile the group's attendees – students or senior citizens for example, have to sit through the joust. But this pop in was his own doing. I heard one news person put it best – it's his house now, surely he knows he could check the lay of the land when the place was empty if he wanted no questions. If would seem very Obama-ish that during this "how you doing" hobnobbing, some casual questions and answers would be the kind of change that he made his foundation in his campaign.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  619. Clarence Wiles - Santa Clara CA

    All is fair in love and war. So much for being approachable. Approachable on my terms. Obama should have replied I like you I really like you, but today I'm just saying Hi and Bye.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  620. Bart

    If it was fair last week and the past 8 years, it is fair now.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  621. Donny (From Georgia)

    I feel it is inappropriate to constantly pound our president with questions at every contact opportunity. I honestly feel that certain journalists are hoping that he will slip up with a spontaneous controversial comment that he/she may benefit/profit from, regardless how destructive that may be to his numerous positive actions. We all (including you, I hope) are trying to rebuild this country, not destroy it for a journalists personal gain or the journalist's employer. Let our President lead this country. Don't use pushy and harassing questioning techniques that resembles tabloid journalism. Allow our President the opportunity to be human and extend the level of professionalism he has extended to you. I feel the informal hello is an example of that level of professionalism. The scheduled organized press conferences provides an opportunity for these type questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  622. Bill Denton, TX

    I'm guessing after those kid gloves handlings he got for a year, he thinks he's above it.

    This is also why Sarah Palin is far more prepared to be President than Mr. 143 Days in the Senate. She took the shots and kept on coming. Now we've got the old, "I invited you to the inauguration and now you're picking on me."

    January 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  623. Eileen McCarthy

    Jack . . . Asking the question in that context seems as inappropriate as discussing your medical symptoms with a doctor at a social gathering. It MIGHT be different if the President in press conferences or the Press Secretary in scrums continually dodged important questions. Even the press has to learn how to distinguish between the professional and the human or social. It seems you have a President who will give opportunities for both.
    Eileen McCarthy
    Welland, Ontario

    January 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  624. Veronica jones

    There's a place and a time for everything, right place, wrong time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  625. Dennis

    No it was not unfair. He is suppose to be the leader of our country. He can't lead part time or when it is convenient for him. Showing irritation at that just shows how big of an ego he has.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  626. Patrick

    One thing is for sure.....that reporter is now getting a seat at the back of the room and won't be called on for a while.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  627. Pat, Atlanta

    At the very next news conference I willing to bet President Obama will remind that reporter of his question and answer it. That is will be the appropriate time. The media needs to get some class we now have a President that has it. Lets try to rise to his example.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  628. RS from Florida

    Of course it's fair and it is an excellent question. Where is the transparency he talked about just a day or two ago. The media would have been all over Bush. You asked the wrong question. You should be following up on the question from the reporter from Politico.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  629. Mike from Washington

    Nope, not unfair. Dumb though.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  630. dee cani

    The first question was fair.

    After POTUS indicated he was not going to answer questions
    at this particular time,
    the 2nd question was inappropriate.

    The press has some entitlement issues.

    It would have been wise to show courtesy to him
    during his first vist to the press room.
    on his 2nd day in office.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |

    Yes it was unfair. Why does the press think change means everyone but them? Our new president if providing unprecedented access to all and still the press insists on behaving like a pack of wild dogs. In a civilized society we practice good manners. President Obama has good manners. It's time for the press to to observe the proprieties.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  632. joy

    Not unfair, but the press has to remember how much they start whining about not getting to ask asking questions. Where was the press when it came to holding the last administration to to task??

    Sorry Wolfe but when the Vaudvillle show of the last administration was allowed to run amok with not so much as a "why are the soldiers still in Iraq?" I think that the press can pose their appropriate questions under more apropriate circumstances.

    Joy from Canada

    January 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  633. chris brooklyn,ny

    the question could have waited. it's about respect.and from the look on the reporters' face i thought he wanted to hurt him . and wonder where was the secret service. i started thinking of the shoe throwing instant. i didn't think that was funny just disrespect for the position. maybe i wrong , i thought office of the president came with a certain amount of respect . it also show other countries how little respect we have for the people who lead this great country. didn't we learn any think from our past. ask your question but don.t be up on him like that . i worry everyday someone try and hurt him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  634. Jonathan

    guys it's only been THREE days!!! i saw a feature about the Obamameter...the guy said he's already signed a few executive orders but there are many he hasn't taken action on...HELLOOOO...it's only been THREE days. geez...Obama stated clearly, many many times, it may take a year, 2 yrs, a whole term even. would you prefer if he just executed all 500 promises in one week just for expediency's sake??

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  635. Viola , Valrico, FL

    Yes! Stop babying Obama.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  636. Miguelito

    Please write the exact same post but replace "Obama" with Bush. I would be very interested in the tone of the comments.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  637. Dean

    It is the job of the press to ask questions. It is the job of a politician to make sure he is prepared to answer it before doing so. Therefore, the reporter was fine in asking, and Obama was fine in declining to answer (as was Chelsea Clinton, for those who want to make that an issue). However, when the reporter pressed for an answer, he was putting himself, and his colleagues, in jeopardy of not getting any informal meetings. That is the President's prerogative.

    Just as in any situation, someone who refuses to follow the rules that have been put in place needs to be reminded of those rules. Just being a member of the press doesn't mean you get to be annoying. Otherwise, what's next papparazi? Is that what 'transparency' means?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  638. alicia

    Yes and No. If President Obama made it clear that this was an informal meeting then I think the press should have backed off. I think it was in good taste that the President made an attempt to establish a relationship with reporters. However, I do understand the reporter desire to have an important question addressed. Sometimes, reporters have to learn when to pull back. It's the first week and President Obama wants to become familiar with his environment.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  639. Jill

    I think its a fair question. Its the press that made Obama what he is! If the press did not project him as they did, he would not have been the president. Now if they hold him to his promises, he gets irritated!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  640. Ron

    It's fair for a reporter to ask a question during an impromptu visit, but the reporter should not have pressed the President once he made it clear he was just coming to say hello. All questions should have stopped at that point out of respect.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  641. Mac Deprey in Poultney, VT

    Yes, it was very unfair. Regardless of who you are, being hounded 24/7, especially when making a welcoming gesture, is down right rude. That reporter should should take a course in ethics.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  642. tom spurrier

    A social visit is a social visit ,
    a press conference/meeting/announcement is a business meeting. The man was going around shaking hands and trying to see various people work. Therefore he dint need to answer a business question. Just think if he didnt take the opportunity to reach out and visit the press area , then the press ould have said he was stand offish or a snob

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  643. Ian, Canada

    I'd have no objection if members of the press asked questions that hadn't already been asked and answered AND they would take "no comment" or "I not answering questions right now" to mean what the average person understands them to mean. Here's some questions I haven't heard...

    Why are we relying on some mix of the same tired old supply-side, demand-side solutions to get us out of this financial mess when they've already been proven to have limited success?

    If less than 1% of the population controls some extremely disproportionate size of the country's real assets why hasn't anyone considered taxation in proportion to wealth as opposed to income?

    What regulatory changes have been proposed to ensure stability in the financial sector?

    How important is increasing the size of the middle class in your deliberations and, if it is, how do your plans help acheive this?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  644. Bobby

    Maybe, maybe not. Enough with this Obama-isn't-being-transparent enough crap though. It makes me laugh to see how Obama not answering the reporter's question and not having a recording of the second swearing in gets to the media so much, they were literally whining about it like children. The media will get their answers.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  645. JB in Wisconsin

    Jack .. Not fair. Tough questions were not allowed for his campaign and there is no room for them now in his transparent and accountable term. What's next, yelling out a question towards him as he gets on the helicopter like other presidents? Seems to be question dodging this week. Basketball questions only please from those good reporters.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  646. Gloria Steinberg

    No, but all Obama lovers will have a different view. If it were a Republican president, they would ask "what is he hiding?" Obama fans will never see any wrong in him, ever. Period.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  647. Adam, Nebraska

    It's not unfair–he's the President. He will always be facing tough questions. I can understand why he might become irritated, though. Even the press should understand that sometimes, you just need to let people live.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  648. Killerdorito

    If it was any President regardless of party, I think it would be unfair. At work, if I was informally visiting a department and I got grilled on a question, I would consider improper and out of context. There are times and places to get grilled.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  649. Clarasunshine

    Yes it was unfair because even the President has a right to informal visits to the press room. The press does not always have it's reporters hat on. For instance, in a bar having a few drinks with friends. Why should the President always be "on" for the press?
    Claremont, California

    January 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  650. Fatima

    It was so rude for this reporter to continue questioning. Pres. Obama was going down, as a nice gesture, and to get to know them, and this reporter continued to grill him. Let's put issues aside and just be human for a little while, and let the reporters enjoy the moment of being with the President, and let the President enjoy being with the reporters and looking around. All we care nowadays is about soundbytes.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  651. Arthur Durity

    He was in, like, the PRESS ROOM ... duh?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  652. Debra in Montana

    No, it wasn't unfair, but it was snarky. Once President Obama declined to answer, it was even ruder to press him. The press needs to understand that Americans like and respect their new president and won't take kindly to reporters, or anyone else, getting in his face unless it's warranted. This wasn't warranted.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  653. Chuck

    Was it unfair, yes. I think it was very unprofessional. What part of "no questions" did they not understand?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  654. Shaun

    No, I don't think it was unfair to ask. But, I also don't think his response was unfair either. He didn't say he wouldn't answer it. He said there is a press conference later & feel free to ask me anything you want at that time. A better question is did he have an answer?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  655. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    many Thanks for this week! Love the article from Fareed Zakaria! Will be watching his show.

    What is wrong with the notion of investing in parks...we need to get goods and people servicing moving!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  656. Dean

    For those saying Obama needs to 'deal with it' – he did. You just didn't like the way he did it. Perhaps the whiner isn't Obama at all? Just a thought...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  657. jackie dukes

    There is a 'time to hold and a time to fold" this was not the time to ask questions.
    Jacksonville, Florida

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  658. ashley

    This man is OUR president! This is not the first tme Obama has done this and I cannot believe people here actually think that what the guy did was wrong?? Obama wants certain types of questions asked to him but if he had the answer...guess what?? he would have answered it! How ridiculous. You know, I hope he continues to do this because I am going to sit back and laugh when 3 years down the road CNN and all the obamabots finally snap out of their dellusion that this man does not like on the spot questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  659. Missy

    I find it amusing that the same people who make fun of us President Obama supporters, implying we think he's 'The Messiah,' won't allow him to have a human reaction to a relentless reporter. Please give him a break for once. Shees!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  660. Chuck

    Come on! Don't you have anything interesting to ask? Petty!

    Disappointed in Rochester, NY

    January 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  661. Janet Yunghans

    The Press will have to make a decision. If they would like to have more visits like this, they will have to respect the President's wishes and save their questions for the press conferences. He made a goodwill gesture to treat the press corps like people and try to better understand their working environment. I feel that they showed a lack of understanding and kindness in return by pressing him with their question. Whether he stops by again is entirely up to how the press responds to any future visit. Who knows? He may actually try to get them a bigger room!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  662. Gus

    I think they just asured themselves the size of thier press room will remain thesame 🙂

    January 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  663. steve , dana point , ca.

    it was rude and petty . you can bet it didn't come from a member of the liberal press . it came instead from a laumbahodian moron who doesn't know there's a difference between journalism and sensationalism ; who doesn't know the meaning of " informal " . no doubt his only interest lies in seeing his name in print . kudos to president Obama .

    dana point , ca.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  664. David

    Yes, it was not reasonable for the informal session. He can not have every reporter with an eye for a "scoop" headline asking whatever they'd like, when they'd like. If it's not a press conference, it's NOT a press conference.

    I agree with another respondent on here who says that the reporter was more inconsiderate than anything else. It's great that we finally have a president who is willing to be so transparent with the press - but to abuse that transparency and in the wrong setting no less, is poor journalism.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  665. Tim Rigney

    I think it was fair of the reporter to ask the question;
    and equally fair of Obama to refuse to answer it
    at that time.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  666. Joshua Forman, Nederland, Colorado

    It was totally fair. President Obama fairly declined to answer and respectfully dictated when and where that question could find an answer.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  667. Marilee Stewart

    Yes it was unfair.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  668. g

    after this incident and yesterday's puzzling performance while signing the first few executive commandments, er, orders (he didn't even know their substance, had to ask his counsel for help and then just repeated what his counsel said), this guy seems pretty unprepared for this job – shocker! he's a liberal blank slate and offers little substance!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  669. Denise

    For goodness sakes already!! Can the man make an impromptu visit without the barrage of questions?! Wow! What you should be asking is when is the last time a President of the USA ever did that?!?!? I think the answer would be a resounding, NOT NEVA!!

    Washington, DC

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  670. Rex

    Since the President came into the press room, it is not unfair. He should expect it. I would think he'll learn not to go down there unless he wants to answer questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  671. Tom

    George W. Bush was a decent good guy too. Would you wacky Obama Zombies have defended him in not answering a question? Didn't think so. But now we are told that we must "For the good of the nation" come together and support Obama. This is a disturbing situation, has everyone forgotten that this is the same Obama that listened to the ravings of a racist preacher for 20 years and only stood up to him when his polls suffered. I am afraid America has its first Pharoah. Obama says to America "Close Gitmo" he says to Conservatives "taxpayers will fund abortions" he says to the Military "You will allow open Homosexuality"so let it be written so let it be done. I guess when you are so glorified you forget that many of these issues require hard work and detailed plans to make happen and in some cases maybe there really is no solution and your politically expedient pronouncement may not be the correct solution. I guess we will see, but what can Obama say to the familys of those Americans killed by radical Islamic Terrorists when his Anti-Bush processes eventually fail? He will be complicit in the deaths of Americans, impeached and removed from office. Not a good legacy at all.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  672. Mama

    As a former journalist, it's your job to ask questions and sometimes cross the line to get information that is in the public's best interest. After that reporter asked the first time and Pres. Obama explained that it was an informal visit, the reporter should have stopped and held the question for a press conference. I don't think he will be getting any exclusives anytime soon! I wonder what the other journalists who were there think about this exchange...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  673. bob from canada

    you know i love the guy but if you walk in to a room full of reporters what do you expect them to do, be curtious and respectfull like a regurlar human being, come on their reporters they are doing their job, being annoying, i just wished this doulble standard had been applied to bush, oh wait the media was actually afraid of bush, that's right.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  674. Mike Vallejos

    Jack, here is some guidance from Ronald Reagan on 'substantive' and 'unfair' questions.

    One day during the 1984 reelection campaign, a television correspondent, Andrea Mitchell to be exact, shouted a question across the Rose Garden to President Reagan: "What about Mondale's charges?" Without missing a beat, the President paused as he was returning to the Oval Office and replied, "Tell him he should pay them."

    January 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  675. RC

    Jack: the room is call "the Press Room" reporters job is to ask questions every chance they get. so no, it was not unfair. But the President has the right to answer if he choose too or at a press conference.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  676. Harrel Lambert

    Hey Jack, President Obama has had a free-ride with CNN and most of the other media venues. How dare someone ask him a question that implies that he is anything less than perfect!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  677. Miguelito

    As a citizen, I would like an answer to the question. Is it too much to ask for Mr. Obama to follow his own rules?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  678. Larry Ratliff

    Geez, these guys are like a bunch of wolves always on the hunt for blood, Obama was trying to meet these people... They should spend more time quizzing Boner(sp?) about his artificial roadblock to recucing our great Nation's economy!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  679. Dave

    Huntsvilloe, AL.
    The President was paying a courtesy visit. He should have recieved the same courtesy. None of us work 24 hours a day. News people need to report the news not make it or create it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  680. Pleasant Williams

    This president is a man of integrity, he was only being polite and wanted to say hello I look forward to being with you, I'm on a schedule. The media needs to grow up.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  681. Jonathan

    there's no controversy about the taking of the oath (honest mistake) or the fact that the music wasn't live ...you're the ones stirring up the controversy. the reason it was recorded was probably the effect of the cold weather. is a a serious n well-respected organisation as CNN really gonna get bogged down with these trivial issues when there are so many other serious challnges facing the country ???

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  682. Julie R

    It certainly was "fair" to ask a substantive question but it was just as "fair" to not answer it. As to appropriateness, it certainly was not that; but we all have come to expect that kind of behavior from the media which is probably one reason why relations are so difficult.
    If I were President Obama, I would make my visits less because of the question, whereas if it were not asked then he probably would be more open to repeating the visits.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  683. JR. Sacramento

    No, not unfair. But could you imagine the same question asked to Sarah Pailin?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  684. Will Third

    Etiquette is not found very often these days, sadly. The Press and the population in general should learn that there is a proper time and a place for everything.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  685. Naomie

    Jack, what's going with your buddy Wolf over there? It's becoming hard to watch the situation room, it's embarassing the way Wolf carried on yesterday. He is the president. He's had more press conference during his transition alone than I can remember Bush had during his second term. This is his third day in office, the press needs to get a grip and stop acting paparazzis. The president is not a reality show star, you don't get to follow his every mondane move no matter how entertaining it is. And please inform Ed Henry that we're not interested in his made up "controversies" and his sensitivities. We want accurate information. I hope the Obama administration start using the internet more to communite with the country.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  686. Scott

    The reporter's first question was out of line IF he understood the that President Obama was making a "social call". The second appeared to be "reporter's reflex" response.

    From my read of Politico's own coverage of the incident, that message may not have gotten fully disseminated among all the reporters between the two floors of the press room.

    I would like to see both the President and the press corps construct a strong give-take relationship so that paparazzi-like questioning tactics can be minimized.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  687. Vince Dawson


    The question wasn't unfair, but the timing was probably bad.

    Let's just chalk it up to the fact that President Obama has had an extremely trying week. He gets credit for paying the press room a visit and getting to know the press corps.

    I would say let's give him a pass this time, and see how the relationship grows.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  688. Alice Newman

    "new policy banning lobbyists in his administration when his pick for Deputy Secretary of Defense lobbied for Raytheon....

    The Key Word is NEW! NEW policy! Turning over a NEW page.

    And no, the President should not expect to get grilled at every opportunity .... especiall when this same Press did a very poor job grilling Bush.

    The Press can encourage or discourage communication: Choices and consequences.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  689. John

    Transparency? There is no gotcha he said he would not hire the lobbyist and he has. So why did you break this promise after only 2 days. It will only get easier for him to now go back on other promises.
    The new president can not keep his commitments, trust is fading fast.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  690. Harrel Lambert

    Of course, it's unfair!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  691. Pam in Barrow

    What an IDIOT! Can the press understand he was trying to do something in a light hearted manner. No wonder people hate the media so much. I studied jouranlism in college, but was taught by my mother there is a time and place for everything and also how to act in the proper venue. HEY WHITEHOUSE PRESS CORP, GET THE MESSAGE?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  692. Tess

    It is not unfair for a reporter to ask the question. Once the President says, I will comment on that later, just hear to meet ya'll, that's the end of questions. The reporter asked the question again. That is when the President cut a little testy with him.
    Why don't we all calm down a little and give the President a week or so to get in all together. People were commenting on some of the stumbling for the first couple of days in the White House.
    Please they just moved in.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  693. Steve

    By no means was it unfair. Oprama, yes I spelled it right Oprama wants to be everybodies pal. Pretty funny how he didn't have a substantive response without a weeks worth of preparation. Maybe he should just pop in on the boys at Gitmo and see how they're getting along. This guy is a phony like no other human on earth. It's going to be fun watching this dope for the next few years.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  694. Thomas

    No...they should not ask the very serious questions. He came by to meet and just be a person kinda off duty one might say.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  695. JJ

    So Obama is going to act like a king huh?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  696. Mitchell

    It was absolutely not unfair. The President should be prepared to handle these type of questions at all times. The only reason I feel he didn't answer right away was he did't have an answer. It show absolute hypocrisy the same way that he appointed a Sec. of Treasury who didn't pay his taxes. If this was Pres. Bush people would be complaining he didn't answer before he was hiding something or was too stupid to be able to handle such a question, but since its Pres. Obama its a different story.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  697. Bryan

    Do you think they would have let President Bush get away with a courtesty visit without asking him about Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, Guantanamo, etc. etc etc???

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  698. Michael Pruden

    Definitely. The press room is their space and if the President chooses to intrude there without invitation, then he should be prepared to take whatever happens. The are, after all, question askers by trade. Kind of like sticking one's leg into a snake pit yet expressing displeasure when they bite you. They're just doin' what comes naturally.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  699. john ganick

    I am a regular watcher of Situation Room and I cannot believe the time devoted to the Ma/Perlman tape....Is this the same as hiding Gitmo torture....you guys are better than that...it was freezing and so what...the 2M loved it....also I have not yet heard any comments about how Darth Cheney looked just like Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove , esp when putting on his glove....for the best news team on TV it is not a good showing

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  700. Larry Ratliff

    Geez, these guys are like a bunch of wolves always on the hunt for blood, Obama was trying to meet these people... They should spend more time quizzing Rep, Boner(sp?) about his artificial roadblock to rescuing our great Nation's economy!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  701. Tom W

    To Scott in Wichita
    I would rather be an ObamaBot than Fox Noise BobbleHead.

    Try and think for yourself.

    By the way, I think he should have answered the question, and that is the difference between liberals and conservatives. You would defend a pedophile if they were conservative.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  702. A Ullman

    Yes, I think it was very unfair. President Obama just wanted to get familiar with his new digs, and say 'hello' in a very informal way. Press conferences the are scheduled venue for asking questions of the President. The Commander In Chief should be able to take a stroll without being hammered by the press. The press can be very 'in you face' at the wrong times. How about a little courtesy for our President?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  703. josh from minneapolis

    absolutely NOT. your the president and you go visit the press what do think is going to happen? he better get use to answering questions.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  704. Wendy

    I wouldn't use the word unfair, maybe more out-of-step with the intention of the visit. I don't mind that the President got short with him. I understand his point. Let's not sweat the small stuff!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  705. Tom from Vienna

    Pres. Obama may believe that other presidents weren't informal enough, friendly enough, or were "out of touch". Now that he's in the position, I think he's finding out why others weren't as accessible as he thought they should have been.

    He should be grilled by the press at every opportunity. Otherwise, his talk of openess is just talk.

    He'll find that now that he's President, he can't control the press as much as he could during the campaign. If he kicks them off of his airplane or kicks them out of the Whitehouse, EVERYONE will hear about it.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  706. Common Sense

    If he's as great as the obama Cult thinks he is, he should be able to answer any question, right?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  707. Tim, San Antonio, TX

    It had no class. The press in this country has no class (except you, Jack) and they're out to get the sound bite that sinks or lifts politicians. The 4th estate is in real need of a couth overhaul.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  708. Gisele


    First, It is the role of the press corp to ask "substantive questions". But I would have loved hearing those questions and answers during the Bush era.
    Second, President Obama, was right not to answer those questions at that time and place. He just wanted to chill...

    However, I hope he answers those questions soon...

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  709. Lynn

    The question was fair. Obama only wants to be transparent when it is convenient to him. We saw it during the campaign, so we shouldn't be surprised now. I personally, love the media being treated this way, since they were so much in the Obama's tank. Be careful what you ask for.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  710. Dawn

    No it wasn't unfair to ask the question, however, as he said he was paying an informal visit and didn't want to answer the question. Which was a perfectly fine answer to me. I think the reporter should've left it alone and not kept pressing him. There are a number of things we all want answered, but he can't answer everything immediately. As he said, he was a holding a press conference the question could be answered there and that was good enough! Let it GO!

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  711. Felicia Murray

    Obama's reaction to a reporter's question demonstrates his idealistic naivete. Don't step into the snake pit and then express surprise when you are bitten.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  712. Maureen Griffin

    I don't think it was unfair to ask a substantive question. But I think it was rude for the reporter to press the issue when told that it was an informal visit and these type of questions would be answered in a press conference. What happened to manners? Or perhaps reporters don't need to worry about manners?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  713. Laura Thibodeaux

    Just because the press decides to push a point or question does not mean we the public are interested in it and consider it a priority on an informal occassion. Do the tough questions – but don't be disrespectful – WE elected him. Do your questionin in the appropriate context and the appropriate time.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  714. Dave

    Since the President went into the press room, he should expect to be asked questions. It is fair of you to ask. Since I think he can't refuse to answer too many such questions before the media begins gunning for him, I suspect he won't be visiting the press room again for a while.

    Of greater interest would be his answer to this: Mr. President, why have you waived your two day old ethcis rules for defense department nominee?

    January 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  715. tom

    There is no such thing as an informal visit with reporters where no questions are expected to be asked. That's just stupid. Why would he think that? It's totally fair to ask anything anytime he is available. That's the reporter's job. Thank you for doing it. Keep it up.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  716. Dee Adams

    Is it unfair to ask President Obama a substantive question during an informal visit to the White House press room?

    Hey, Obama said it perfectly: "I won." So I guess that he still doesn't have to answer substantive questions like Bush41 doesn't eat broccoli. What is different? Oh it is you – I think it is a bit late to ask "substantive" questions. You better go back to asking if he is comfortable and how high you need to jump or if the lighting is good for him. The bottom line: change is you changing – not him.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  717. Tim

    Yes I believe it was tacky. Also the relative ranking of the reporter has a lot to do with. A reporter at a second tier news org. may feel his access is limited so he/she may be compelled to take thier shots when available.


    January 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  718. Fernando F.

    Is fair not to answer. He made the point that he came just to say hi. He said hi. He thought the media would be please to see him around. Imagine him going to a theatre to watch a movie and there is a reporter beside him. Is the reporter allow to ask him questions just because he is there? no! There is a time for everything. If he refuses to answer questions during this 4 years, then you can complain about him not answering questions. Is his first wee. Give him a break and give me a break too.

    January 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm |