Barack Obama

Jay Carney: Obama's Most 'Substantive, Challenging' Election-Year Interview Was With The Daily Show

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Whitehouse.gov

The toughest interview President Obama had in the run-up to the 2012 election was with snarky talk-show host John Stewart, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

In an on-stage interview at George Washington University today, the top administration communications official pointed to the president's sit-down with The Daily Show as the "most substantive, challenging" grilling Obama had prior to the election. Via RealClearPolitics:

JAY CARNEY: I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch The Daily Show than some other news shows. But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of The Daily Show

That's a feather in Stewart's cap, and a reflection of his formidable skills as an interviewer (for a more recent example, witness the interview he conducted with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shortly after the launch of Obamacare's exchanges). Stewart really is extremely good at drawing out his subjects, at getting to the point, and at focusing more on substance than on soundbite-driven news-cycle controversies.

But if you think Carney's remark is true, it's also something of an indictment of the mainstream journalists who are supposed to be holding the president accountable. If the president isn't squirming a bit under questioning, and his staff don't consider the interviews he sits for to be tough or challenging, then that's a problem.

Of course, that's hard to do without access. And this White House has not exactly made it easy for journalists to question the president, especially those with national audiences who might be most eager to press him on tough subjects.

During much of the 2012 campaign, the White House minimized its contact with national press, favoring local media outlets that were easier to bargain with. By August of that year, the president had been interviewed just eight times by national media, and 58 times by local news. Local news reporters were given ground rules that most national press would have been unlikely to accept: The White House chose the topic of the interview in advance, and then limited the length of the interviews to just 10 minutes, meaning that even if a reporter wanted to deviate from the predetermined topic, there was little time to discuss anything else.

National media ought to be willing to subject this president (or any other, from any party) to tough, rigorous interviews. But the White House and its communications team ought to be confident enough to subject the president to fair but critical interviews about his statements and policies. That they are not probably tells you as much or more than many of the softball interviews he ended up giving. 

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  1. That’s about the level this administration operates at–pop. It’s the Tiger Beat Administration.

  2. Not surprising that the most exposure to a critical press that Obama’s handlers would allow was a chat with a smirking left wing snark monger.

  3. And I’m guessing the most challenging interview since then involved two ferns?

  4. Wasn’t Stewart fairly respectful of Ron Paul?

    1. And of Rand Paul – at least, in interviews.

    2. I get some guff for this, but Stewart, in my opinion, is actually a very good interviewer.

      There’s probably nearly nothing he and I would agree on politically, but he’s bright and actually quite respectful of his guests– even when they don’t agree. I don’t like the Daily Show interviews which are edited and repackaged for comic value. Those are useless. But when Jon Stewart sits down with someone and does a one-on-one, I think he’s pretty good.

  5. You know, Carney may actually be right. Because to my knowledge he refused interviews with Fox News and conservative publications, and all the left wing news orgs sucked his cock the whole time. I would not be surprised if the Daily Show was the only substantive interview, and even that was probably at least a handy.

    1. …”I would not be surprised if the Daily Show was the only substantive interview,”…

      I’m not either and is Carney proposing that a bar that low is something to be proud of?
      His boss only deals with bootlickers and that’s good?

    2. I would not be surprised if the Daily Show was the only substantive interview

      Low bar, tallest midget, etc.

  6. haha, its like there rubbing it in our faces at this point. I don’t know if there is another clip that more perfectly encapsulates the magnitude of narcissism, tone-deafness and utter stupidity of our current administration that came out this week, but I’m sure I could find one. Plus still got a couple of days left.

  7. That’s a feather in Stewart’s cap, and a reflection of his formidable skills as an interviewer (for a more recent example, witness the interview he conducted with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shortly after the launch of Obamacare’s exchanges). Stewart really is extremely good at drawing out his subjects, at getting to the point, and at focusing more on substance than on soundbite-driven news-cycle controversies.

    To the contrary, he’s a good interviewer precisely because he knows how to create damaging soundbites. Stewart is affable, but his interviews are not substantial nor is his depth of knowledge sufficient to allow for such an interview even if such were his preference.

    Stewart was hard on Sebellius, but that interview would have been survivable had the interviewee been more adroit and had a command of the facts. Sebellius clearly lacked both, and that is what was so damaging, not Stewart’s questions per se.

  8. “What is there to grill Obama about?” – Much of the national media

    1. “What is there to mock about Obama?” – Every late night and comedy sketch show.

  9. But if you think Carney’s remark is true, it’s also something of an indictment of the mainstream journalists who are supposed to be holding the president accountable.

    This nails it right here, on the head.

    I DO believe that Obama’s toughest interview was with Jon Stewart. The MSM has become nearly useless in asking tough questions of a sitting Democrat[ic President].

    1. Bill-O asked “tough” questions in the Fox Super Bowl interview. He got the “not a smidgeon” of corruption in the IRS quote out of him and threw in a few BUT BENGHAZI!’s.

  10. Dude, no way man whty didnt I tyhink of that?

    http://www.GotsDatAnon.tk

  11. Not even close this was. http://benswann.com/jay-carney…..w-of-2012/

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