The Atlantic noted on Tuesday that Kroft “has just broadcast another softball interview with the most powerful man in the world, a performance that ought to earn him a rebuke from his peers in the news business but almost certainly won’t.”
And that’s a shame, The Atlantic says, because it “diminishes” the program and the industry.
Little wonder that Obama keeps going back,” the magazine notes. “The 60 Minutes brand is associated with probing interviews, and Kroft is adept at using his tone and manner to create the impression of tough questions without actually asking any. For Sunday’s interview, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sat beside him, benefited from 60 Minutes gravitas while answering questions better suited to Ellen.”
Here is one of the “tough” questions put to the president:
“This administration, I mean, you’ve generally gotten high marks,” Kroft said. “You’ve generally gotten very high marks, particularly from the voters for your handling of foreign policy. But there’s no big, singular achievement that — in the first four years — that you can put your names on. What do you think the biggest success has been, foreign policy success, of the first term?”
The Atlantic breaks it down for us: “That’s the quintessential Kroft question. Fawning praise, followed by an observation that seems as if it’s a transition to a tough question, but actually segues to, So, what’s the best thing you’ve done?”
The Atlantic piece does a nice job of gathering a few questions asked of President George W. Bush by the same news outfit. They include, “Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?”
Even comedian (by his own admission) Jon Stewart asks tougher questions of Obama than “60 Minutes” does.
But here’s the point. Conservatives shouldn’t demand that the media be softer on Republican politicians — or even support “their own” media, such as radio talk show hosts and the Fox News Channel, for seeming to do so.
That’s not the answer; it’s not even “fairness.” The real solution is for the media to be equally tough on all political figures. Accountability and transparency are conservative values, just as much as they are liberal values.
Kroft is proud of his access to and interviews with Obama. He shouldn’t be. Journalists should hold themselves, and their interview subjects, to much higher standards.