Falling firmly into the category of "Ginned-Up Controversy": Politico's breathless story and on-line poll about what people think of the POTUS's stiffing the major dailies at last night's news conference.

To their credit, editors from the WaPo and NYT brushed the whole thing off. But other newspaper folks were quoted sounding so hysterical and self-important that my initial apathy on the issue morphed into a measure of pleasure over the medium's perceived slight. This from Charlotte Hall, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors President, to Politico:

[Hall] admitted to being disappointed that the president bypassed the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal in favor of questions from the TV networks, Univision, Stars and Stripes, the Washington Times and POLITICO.

“Newspapers do the majority of watchdog and investigative reporting in the country. Newspapers also ask tough questions at news conferences,” said Hall, the editor of the Orlando Sentinel.

“With their burgeoning online audiences, their reporting has reach and impact. So I was disappointed the president did not call on any reporters from the major papers. I hope he will be responsive to their questions in the future, not because that might help ‘save’ newspapers, but because they produce the strongest and most in-depth reporting on national affairs.” 

Gag. While I agree that newspaper's do God's work in a way that most other mediums do not, it's safe to say that most of the "in-depth" stories broken by the dailies in recent years haven't come out of press conferences. (As for making news: Can anyone even remember a memorable moment from a Bush presser--other than 43's snapping at NBC's David Gregory for asking a question in French of the French president or John Dickerson, then of Time magazine, unsuccessfully prodding Bush to name a mistake he'd made.) Besides, it's not as though Obama has made it a policy of stiffing the big dailies. He gives them plenty of access, flirts with Maureen Dowd, and generally treats the Big Dogs with plenty of respect. Moreover, reporters from major dailies are hardly the only ones not to roll over and lick the president's hand at these gatherings. Even if you believe that scribes from smaller outlets are going to be struck dumb by the commander-in-chief's radiance, the network players (who come with a bit of their own shimmer) hold their own--at least in part because they can't afford to show up on-air looking like wussies. 

So, honestly, who gives a rat's ass if Obama doesn't genuflect at one lousy press conference? Maybe it means something. Maybe it doesn't. My guess is that, mostly, the rabblerousers over at Politico delight in rubbing the big boys' noses in this kind of thing.  

--Michelle Cottle