But, as good as Jeter was at making that jump-throw from deep in the hole on a grounder, he isn't a journalist. This will come as a surprise to no one — most especially Jeter.
The eight-minute clip above is a good watch — two very successful people talking about their lives — but it's not an interview in any real sense of the world. Jeter asks Obama about his role models. Jeter praises Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. They joke about retirement. Jeter talks as much as Obama does.
In theory, this is totally fine. Obama and Jeter clearly know and like each other. And, like I said, it's an interesting conversation.
Here's the problem: The last time The Washington Post had a sitdown like this with Obama was in December 2009. The New York Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin talked to Obama in Jacksonville, Fla., in April. The last Obama sit down with the Times's White House team was July 2013. (A full list of interviews Obama has granted to the big three news organizations — per CBS Radio's invaluable Mark Knoller — is below.)
'You're just jealous!' you will (or already have) tweeted.
That's not it.
I understand that this White House has a very keen sense of the fractured media environment and knows that having Obama spend some time with Jeter will expose him — and what he says — to more people (and far more people who are either casually or not at all interested in politics) than a sitdown with The Post might. (This was the same logic the White House used to explain Obama's decision to go on "Between Two Ferns," a satirical TV show hosted by actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis.)
And, I'm not universally against non-political reporters interviewing Obama. I've found Bill Simmons's (of "The Ringer" and HBO) interviews with Obama far more insightful than many of the interviews Obama has done.
Simmons is a journalist, though. Sure, he asks different questions — and in different ways — than The Post might. But, he asks questions, looks for answers and probes when he doesn't get them. Jeter, Charles Barkley and the trio of You Tube stars who got to interview Obama in January aren't reporters. They aren't going to ask Obama uncomfortable questions or follow up when Obama dodges. They are happy for the chance to interview with the president. They want things to go smoothly, to go according to plan.
And that's would be fine, too, if — and this is a big if — Obama was also making more time to sit with some of the big national news organizations whose job it is to explore the strengths and weaknesses of his various policy proposals and public statements and to hold his feet to the fire if and when it's necessary.
He isn't. It's been 78 months — 78! — since Obama sat down with The Post. I was a young buck of 33 back then! Here's the full list of sit downs that Obama has done as president with The Post, the Times and the Wall Street Journal (again, thanks to Mark Knoller).
7/22/09 (Fred Hiatt)
12/22/09 (Scott Wilson)
New York Times
4/14/09 (NYT Mag David Leonhardt)
6/2/09 (Tom Friedman)
6/10/09 (Robert Draper)
9/28/09 (NYT Mag)
12/22/09 (Adam Nagourney)
7/21/10 (Janny Scott)
9/27/10 (Peter Baker)
8/18/14 (Tom Friedman)
4/4/15 (Tom Friedman)
7/14/15 (Tom Friedman)
2/26/16 (Andrew Ross Sorkin)
5/6/16 (Table For Three: Philip Galanes/Bryan Cranston)
Wall Street Journal
Yes, traditional media outlets have lost some of their long-held dominance in terms of readers. But on any given month, tens of millions of people are reading the journalism of The Post and the Times. They may not be as central as they once were to the national conversation, but they are still pretty damn central.
If Obama can make time for Jeter, he should make time for these big news organizations, too. Just because Obama no longer "needs" the mainstream media as much as he once did doesn't mean he should be allowed free license to ignore it almost entirely.