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Whod’a thought! Deb Peterson’s gossip column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch seems to be full of little gems. Today’s tidbit? Seems Erik Wemple, media blogger at the WaPo, thought that a local TV newsman, KMOV’s Larry Conners, was showing what a tough and principled newsman he is when Conners pressed the President on his and his family’s  travel. Wemple quotes Connors question (video available at WaPO site):

The economy is a big issue and concern for folks. The unemployment, trying to make ends meet, gas prices, food prices are going up. Some of our viewers are complaining…they get frustrated and even angered when they see the First Family jetting around different vacations and so forth, sometimes maybe they think under the color of state business and that you’re out of touch, you really don’t know what they’re experiencing right now.

Whoa! The fact that the president’s family takes an occasional vacation is a “big issue and concern” for folks? More of a concern than high gas prices? This is true of some Teahadists perhaps, and others who are susceptible to the efforts of Fox News and other right-wing outlets to stir up the “low-effort thinkers,” but that’s a serious minority of our population. As one fellow-blogger observes:

The non-scandal of Obama’s vacation time comes up about once every six months, always with the same arc: somebody on the right WAAAAAAHHHHHHHs about how much vacation time Obama takes, a news organization actually takes the time to calculate his vacation time and compare it to that of previous presidents, and everybody realizes Obama has taken one-third of the vacation time that one George W Bush took (see CBS’ semi-recent tally here).

Wimple writes that “Conners has been in the business for decades and was in no mood to coddle the President.” I bet. Invited to the White House as part of the President’s push to publicize the Buffett rule, Connors decided to eschew asking a substantive question about the economy and, instead, take a cheap shot at the President – and not just any cheap shot, but one replete with right-wing bias. But when you get to the “hard-hitting” Conners’ report it actually gets worse:

After Obama noted that he was raising a family and has no choice but to fly through Air Force One, Connors [sic] spliced to his own post-interview commentary in which he criticized the President for sidestepping his question. I mean, rude, right? (Of course, Connor’s [sic] didn’t ask a substantive question, so I don’t know why he expected a substantive answer.)

Conners’ non-reporting is bad enough, but it got him what  he probably wanted – kudos from Rush Limbaugh among others.  But what’s wrong with Peterson and Wemple? Why, when it comes to the President, do folks think that demonstrably empty and somewhat inept efforts to lob a discredited “gotcha” constitutes “tough” journalism? Why is Conners getting praise because he chose to forgo an opportunity to ask a real question?

Peterson, from her perch in gossip-land, seems to think that any time a local person is mentioned in the big-time venues it’s thrilling, no matter how embarrassing the performance. And Wemple does try to justify his claim, noting that KMOV polled viewers on their Facebook page about what Conners shoul ask the President, but the evidence that Conners was responding to an overwhelming need to know on the part of St. Louisians comes across as pretty slim:

That’s not to say that the 136 posts that came in response to the KMOV poll were heavy on outrage about presidential family travel. They were not. The standard issues dominated – unemployment, gas prices, health care and, yes, there was a birth certificate comment in there just to round things out….

Birthers! Well … KMOV does have that kind of reputation – I guess we just have to  count our blessings and be happy that Conners didn’t ask to see the President’s birth certificate.

*First sentence edited for clarity; “in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch” was added.