President Obama crafts a more effective ‘no comment’

February 10, 2012

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Over three years of governing, President Obama has come to be known less as a champion of the sweeping changes that he alluded to in his 2008 campaign and more as an incrementalist.

Until Thursday.

That’s when he revolutionized how put-upon officials play off badgering questions from the press. It used to be that when a big shot didn’t want to answer an inquiry, the reply would be “no comment” or even “next question.”

Now, thanks to the way in which Obama deferred a question about the contraception controversy during a photo op with the Italian prime minister, “come on, guys” will serve as the new boilerplate media dis. It has several advantages over “no comment”: 1) less adversarial; 2) suggests that it’s the question that’s misguided, not the official’s unwillingness to comment; 3) you don’t have to say “no comment” anymore.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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