In his year-ending press conference Friday, President Obama made news by:
- Criticizing Sony Pictures Entertainment for its decision to pull its movie, “The Interview,” in the face of threats from hackers;
- Quipping that Belgium needs Politico.
- Selecting only female reporters to ask questions.
According to a White House official, the television networks were advised before the press conference that they’d be out in the cold since they’d had asked questions of the president “at least twice since last month’s election.” In a statement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the President of the United States. As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the President’s closely watched, end of the year news conference.” Given the wide-ranging response on social media, it’s hard to characterize the reaction, but here are some samples:
It’s particularly news at Fox News. Following the presser, host Gretchen Carlson asked Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry why he’d been “snubbed.” Henry jokingly responded, “Gretchen, I’m outraged for men everywhere.”
After explaining why the White House chose only women, Henry turned toward the quality of the interrogation: “Frankly, I think some of the questions just didn’t press him. I mean, there’s so much going on right now and the questions were trailing off. The president was almost like, ‘Let me remember what you asked,’ ’cause it was so unmemorable. I mean, he’s the president of the United States.”
Carlson interrupted, saying, “We’re talking about possible act of war with the Sony hack…but there was a lot of laughing going on in the press conference. I mean, I’m all for a good joke, but you’ve got the Cuba situation, people were asking what his New Year’s resolution was, for God’s sake.”
Was this a plain case of Fox News sexism? Eh, that’s a tough case to make. No matter what mainstream media rep — man or woman, wire reporter or broadcaster — is questioning the president, Fox News tends to be unimpressed.