The WSJ editorial page editors are probably not too concerned about being dropped from the list of special reporters who get pre-selected to kiss President Obama’s ring and ask him nice questions at his news conferences, which is probably why they are the ones to comment on the situation:
Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren’t White House favorites.
Few accounts of Monday night’s event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn’t out of fear of being left off the list the next time.
As usual at a time like this, I turn to my Pocket Obama for guidance. I think I found the key to this behavior on page 53:
It’s not healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism or dialogue with people who disagree with them.
“What?” you may ask. What did his press conference have to do with religion?
Exactly the point. Sure, he’s insulating himself from criticism and dialogue with people who disagree with him. But he’s not doing it by wearing religion on his sleeve, so he’s doing it the right way.