You knew it was coming, the only question was when. With the completely apolitical and non-governmental “Deflategate” (not “Ballghazi”)scandal eating up most of the current newshole, it was inevitable that some White House reporter would ask for President Obama’s reaction to the scandal, and that eventuality occurred on the third question of Friday’s White House daily briefing.
CNN Chief White house Correspondent Jim Acosta asked Press Secretary Josh earnest for the President’s reaction to the cheating scandal involving the New England Patriots’ use of under-inflated balls during last Sunday’s AFC Championship victory. Earnest didn;t have anything from the President, but did offer his own thoughts on Brady’s performance at a late-afternoon press conference:
“For years it has been clear that there is no risk that I was going to take Tom Brady’s job as quarterback of the new England patriots, but I can tell you that as of today, it’s pretty clear that there’s no risk of him taking my job, either.”
A generous Earnest noted that Brady is looking for his sixth Super Bowl victory, while modestly not mentioning his own team’s impressive string of victories.
Brady’s press conference followed an earlier presser by New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, at which the coach put the onus on Brady to explain the deflated footballs. Aside from Patriots loyalists, Brady’s performance didn’t convince many, as even former NFL players expressed skepticism that he could have played with such under-inflated balls and not noticed. When bluntly asked “Is Tom Brady a cheater?” his reply was an enthusiastic “I don’t believe so.”
As a White House reporter, though, I must take slight issue with Earnest’s offhand assessment of Brady’s podium skills. Yes, Brady;’s delivery is wooden and strained, but he does have qualities that might endear him to reporters as a White House spokesman. Even though he was only answering questions on a single topic, Brady hung in there a good long time. If he extended that per-topic average to a White House briefing, they’d be three hours long, but i bet everyone would get a question in. As you can see from the video below, Brady also does a good job of moving around the room, like Earnest but unlike Robert Gibbs. Brady’s responses were also pleasantly concise when compared with those typically given from the White House podium.
Finally, as little as I, or anyone else, believed many of Brady’s responses, that’s not necessarily a disqualifier for the job, since I’m also pretty sure nobody believes what Earnest said about the President’s decision not to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits John Boehner in March:
“The President at this point does not plan to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on this visit that apparently is scheduled for March. The reason for that is that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit comes about two weeks before the Israeli elections, and this administration goes to great lengths to ensure that we don’t give even the appearance of interfering or attempting to influence the outcome of a democratically held election in another country. And for that reason, the President will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu went he visits the U.S. in March.”
He’s no Josh Earnest, but if called on to fill in, it’s not so ridiculous to think that Tom Brady could step up to that podium. After all, it’s already called the Brady briefing Room, and at least some of the time, the questions are no harder to handle than an under-inflated football.
Here’s Brady’s presser from Thursday afternoon. You be the judge: