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Revisiting Ann Compton's Stupid Question
"Could I ask you about race?"
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I mentioned it in the POTUS/TOTUS press conference liveblog last night, but I’m still marveling at the stupidity of it.

“It” being the bone-headed question on race from ABC News reporter Ann Compton:

The question was so ill-conceived and softball that even President Obama seemed embarrassed. Transcript:

Ann Compton? Hey, Ann. You sound surprised.

Q: I am surprised. Could I ask you about race?

OBAMA: You may.

Q: Yours is a rather historic presidency. And I’m just wondering whether, in any of the policy debates that you’ve had within the White House, the issue of race has come up or whether it has in the way you feel you’ve been perceived by other leaders or by the American people? Or has the last 64 days been a relatively colorblind time?

OBAMA: I, I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy, and that affects black, brown and white.

And, you know, obviously, at the inauguration, I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day.

And, and, you know, right now, the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged. And that is: Are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe? And that’s what I’ve been spending my time thinking about.

Notice the meek way in which Compton asked the Obamessiah for permission before she proceeded:

COMPTON: Could I ask you about race?

OBAMA: You may.

What a self-parody.

Mind you, Ann Compton isn’t a rookie reporter. She’s a veteran ABC News journalist and is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Seats in the White House press briefing room are scarce and coveted. If this is the best she can come up with when she’s called on unexpectedly, Compton should seriously think about giving up her seat to someone who deserves it.


Anthony Bradley, World Magazine:

It is possible that Compton was not expecting to ask a question last night as President Obama even noted that she seemed surprised when called upon. Perhaps Compton had no question in mind so the best she could think of, on the spot, was a race-related question. After all, she was looking at a black man who must obviously think only along racial lines when thinking of new ways to grow the government. Other than race-related questions, what else would one ask America’s first black president?

At least Compton did not ask about the president’s dogs or where his wife buys her shoes. Given the pressure of possibly being taken off guard, I imagine that I could have offered a series of strange questions as well like “Mr. President, have you read F.A. Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom?” Or “Mr. President, do you think you’ll make a Clemson football game in the fall? They have a new head coach. Go Tigers!” Or “Mr. President, what is your favorite snack food during meetings?” These are the kinds of questions Americans want to know the answers to during an economic crisis, right?

Actually, reading Hayek now would be very helpful in Washington these days.


I do feel sorry for Ms. Compton because she will probably spend the next few weeks being ridiculed. A few folks have already posted complaints about her question at ABC “Tonight’s question by Ann Compton to the president of the United States was the lamest, worst conceived I could have imagined,” one critic posted. In the end, here’s the moral of the story: If you’re at a White House press conference, always have a good question ready to ask even if you do not believe you’ll be called on to speak. Always.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Media