People were quick to lambaste National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre following his appearance before the media on Friday morning. Yes, there was criticism of his proposal to equip schools around the country with armed guards. For media wonks, though, the juicy angle lay in LaPierre’s decision to call a “major news conference,” only to turn away questions after he delivered his prepared remarks.
Twitter had fun with that particular juxtaposition:
Models of accountability insist that a figure as central to federal policy as LaPierre stand there and take questions after issuing controversial remarks. But no: Question-answering by the NRA will begin taking place Monday, when an estimated 45 to 69 people will be paying attention.
It’s a crock that LaPierre and his colleagues would duck out of the one-sided session. The problem is that it’s a very well-used crock, one that public officials pull from the cabinet whenever there’s a whiff of crisis or controversy. Who knows if it’s a trend — could there be an academic who studies the frequency of no-question press conferences?
Mark Leibovich, a big-deal reporter for the New York Times Magazine, says, “It seems to be all the more common, in the spirit of not muddying the carefully crafted, pre-drafted message.”
LaPierre, in other words, has some outstanding company in walking away without answering a single question. What follows is a terribly small sampling of folks who have collectively sullied the so-called press conference:
Like any experienced chief executive, President Obama does a good job of issuing prepared statements before ignoring questions from assembled reporters, a dynamic memorialized by the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro.
One minute is barely long enough to clear your throat, let alone provide an update on fiscal-cliff negotiations and take questions.
Leaders of the Chinese Communist Party’s Organization Department
These people held a press briefing in November, but according to The Post, they weren’t eager to be pressed on “the sensitive question of wealth among leaders’ families. Instead, they talked in general terms about the need to reform and deal with corruption.” No questions on wealthy apparatchiks, please.
The Very Best Doctors in Iraq
On Wednesday, top-flight doctors at Baghdad Medical City hospital in Iraq held an update to brief reporters on the condition of 79-year-old Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. He’d suffered a stroke and was headed to Germany for treatment. No questions, according to a New York Times account.
Purdue University Athletic Director Morgan Burke
The AP reports that Burke held a short news conference earlier this month to discuss the university’s qualification to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1. Burke “gave an opening statement but again did “not take questions” about the search for a new football coach.
Suspended Minnesota State-Mankato Football Coach Todd Hoffner
This man held a press conference after a child pornography case against him was dismissed, according to USA Today. He gave a statement. Questions? No.
Indianapolis homeland security chief Gary Coons and Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry
Last month, Coons and Curry held a press conference on a Nov. 10 explosion that claimed two lives in a pricey neighborhood. Absolutely no questions were taken, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Cortland County (N.Y) District Attorney Mark Suben
This guy used a mid-November press conference to admit that, yeah, he’d indeed acted in porn films back in the ’70s. He fielded no questions on the topic.
JSPL Chairman and Congress MP Naveen Jindal
The above individual is involved in a dispute in India that is far too complicated to short-hand in this space. Try the Asian Tribune for further information. In any case, he held a press conference at which he answered no questions.
Rep. Joe Walsh
Back in October, the congressman held a press conference to expand upon/clarify/hedge a controversial statement he’d made about abortion. No questions, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The celebrated Redskins tight end was on the “verge of tears” at an August news conference after he was released, according to USA Today. (He later re-signed with the team). No questions at the presser.
The Erik Wemple Blog is going to stop there, satisfied that a case has been made that people don’t always enjoy having tough questions asked of them, whatever the circumstances.