John King totally blew off any chance to ask Dick Cheney any credible questions to win the Media Putz
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on March 19, 2009
Dick Cheney is a very scary person on television. So it’s easy to imagine that sitting in the same room with him and having to ask him tough questions could be quite daunting. But for TV journalists, this should be why they get the big bucks.
When CNN’s John King had a chance to interview Cheney, he had an advantage that others before him did not have: Cheney was no longer in the role of being vice president. Cheney was a regular civilian, still with Secret Service protection and his musk of evil emanating from him, but without the power of the position.
Unfortunately for us, King didn’t bring his “A” game, his “B” game, or any game. Even when Wolf Blitzer nearly soiled himself after Cheney’s wrath over asking about his pregnant daughter in January 2007, he still did a better job than King.
King’s questions were as soft as a baby’s bottom. Even Larry King was embarrassed. If Cheney is going to yell at you anyway, you might as well get your money’s worth. Just ask Blitzer.
Here was the opening salvo: “President Obama urges absolute confidence in the struggling economy, but can the country afford his ambitious plans?” John Ziegler, the guy who asked questions to Sarah Palin in that oddball documentary, asked her tougher questions.
Well, okay, even if you invite your enemy into your home, you do offer a drink first. Maybe the harder stuff would come later.
“But another 9/11, because of a tactic like waterboarding or a black site, can you say with certainty you stopped another attempt to do something on that level?”
“I want to show you one more newspaper headline in this segment. This is a newspaper many Americans might not recognize, but I read it and I know you read it … Is the president of the United States trying to brazenly deceive the American people?”
Amazingly, King was talking about Obama, not Bush. What? Really?
Dick Cheney said you couldn’t blame the Bush Administration for the financial mess. King let that go. Cheney went off on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (like many other Republicans without a shred of credibility) — nothing from King.
Arianna Huffington supposed if Jon Stewart had interviewed Dick Cheney instead of John King. Martha Stewart would have asked tougher questions than King (mostly because she’s been in prison).
We had if not the worst administration in this country’s long history, certainly the worst in King’s lifetime, and he couldn’t ask anything significant about the Bush years.
And given how poorly the administration was run in every respect, why would Dick Cheney somehow be the expert analyst on Obama’s attempts to fix the damage Bush and Cheney caused in the first place?
King codifies the attitude that it’s somehow offensive to ask remotely tough questions directly to Republican politicians (CBS’ Chip Reid and ABC’s Rick Klein were dismayed at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ mild rebuke of Cheney’s segments from last week, but had no such reaction to Cheney’s remarks about President Obama).
It’s one thing to ask tough questions of a politician, regardless of party, and not get the answers you want. But time and time again, MSM reporters refuse to ask Dick Cheney even a mildly tough question. John King had a chance to change that perception, even if it would come after Cheney left the office — and he had the audacity to engage in an even softer interview than what Cheney is used to giving.
Even by corporate media standards, John King offered a soft touch on someone who has caused a lot of damage on multiple levels in our society — some of which will take years to fix, and some parts never will be fixed. For his timidity and utter incompetence, we gladly award John King the Media Putz of the week.
John King shared the Media Putz award with Campbell Brown on November 13, 2008.