Friday, December 22, 2006

"Look at my record:" It's the new "I don't answer hypotheticals."

Perhaps the best indication of the sorry state of journalism these days is the acceptance of what have come to be the new rules of press conferences. As one example, over the last several years (and totally inexplicably), reporters have simply accepted that they aren't allowed to ask "hypothetical" questions anymore.

When cornered with a particularly incisive "what if", politicians simply brush it off with, "Well, that's a hypothetical and I don't do hypotheticals," and the journalist is either too spineless or too dense to respond with, "Well, why the fuck not?" The politicians invented this sleazy little dodge out of thin air, and reporters have bought into it hook, line and sinker, to their everlasting shame. But there's a new kid in town.

Apparently, when you're cornered with an embarrassing political history and are asked to explain it, the new out is to simply suggest that people "look at your record," as if that somehow constitutes an answer:

Governor Mitt Romney defended his conservative bona fides yesterday before an audience of skeptics and supporters curious about his rightward shift on several hot-button social issues as he readies for a run for president...

Yesterday, after speaking to an audience of about 150 people, Romney defended his record as governor to reporters.

"The proof is in the pudding," he said. "People will have a chance to look at my record as governor of Massachusetts and see what I've done there. Talk is cheap, but action is not."

Not surprisingly, this bit of weaselitude doesn't even remotely constitute a meaningful response, since it's usually presented as a reply to someone who just finished describing someone's "record" in painful and horrifying detail, and is now asking to have it explained.

In short, in almost all cases, the proper snappy comeback to "You should look at my record" would be, "Dude, I did look at your record, and I've just summarized it for you, and now I want you to defend it. So stop being such a gutless little weasel and let's hear it."

Sadly, that ain't gonna happen anymore. You can't ask hypotheticals, and you can't talk about records without being told to go away look at them again.

Is this a great scam or what?


Anonymous said...

"...and now I want you to defend it."

They won't comment because there's an ongoing criminal investigation, right?

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll tell...I don't tend to want to answer hypotheticals, especially when some can be so abysmally stupid. Some hypotheticals from reporters are really a set-up for "gotcha moments," either immediately, or later on. I look at it on a case-by-case basis. I don't think anyone should feel they have to answer a question they believe is designed to incriminate them. They usually don't ellicite much useful information anyway.

With you on the "look at my record" dodge. It's exactly like how a troll answers a question by providing a link and nothing else.