President Obama spoke at length Friday morning to defend his administration from recent reports that the government is collecting data about U.S. citizens using online activity and phone records.
But that wasn’t enough for Politico‘s Glenn Thrush.
“Always baffled by Obama’s unwillingness to use address from Oval — even though not his best millieu,” Thrush tweeted Sunday night. “Doesn’t PRISM/[Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] demand it?” (PRISM is the codename for a government digital-spying program, a story first broken by WaPo.)
Asked why Friday’s comments from Obama weren’t enough, Thrush declined to answer. “Nah, but tks (thanks) for the reach out,” Thrush told FishbowlDC.
Thrush, however, had no problem engaging former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau on the matter. “If I were in the White House I’d be screaming at this tweet,” Favreau told Thrush Sunday. Thrush shot back that an unfiltered statement by Obama on the matter would be better than “a canned question or a ’60 Minutes’ deal.”
“Oh, now you think a controlled, scripted speech is better than taking questions from the press? That’s a first!” said Favreau.
“This isn’t our usual back and forth, Favs,” said Thrush, who is on a nickname basis with Favreau, “This is a major policy impacting the American people that requires a direct explanation.”
White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer jumped in… “This is an argument from the ’80s,” he said. “Ovals reach about one-third the audience they did when Reagan did them.”
“11 a.m. Q&A reaches more?” Thrush asked rhetorically.
After a little more back-and-forth between Thrush and Favreau:
Favreau: “Beyond POTUS declassifying all details or dismantling the program, what would satisfy you in an Oval? Honestly asking.”
Thrush: “It’s like saying why should Obama give a speech on race in ’08 – he already addressed that in his book? We are in a ‘moment.'”
Thrush and Favs eventually agreed to disagree. But not before a word from NJ‘s self-referential Ron Fournier. “It all matters,” Fournier said, regarding the government spying and other hot-button political issues. “And it all languishes if Americans continue to lose faith in government.”
Included in Fournier’s tweet was, of course, a link to a column he wrote last week.
We’ve reached out to Favs for comment via The Daily Beast, where he is a contributor.
Photoshop credit: Austin Price