Obama Gets “Testy” With Local Texas News Reporter

Yesterday, President Obama conducted interviews with local news reporters from four states, but it was his exchange with a reporter from Texas that’s making news today:

Texas, it appears, is messing with President Obama.

The White House has been making a concentrated effort to reach out to local media in key states in a bid to deliver its message more directly to the American people — and evade the hand-me-down coverage of the national press, which George W. Bush, a Texan, used to call “the filter.”

But on Monday, things did not go as scripted. Obama grew testy with a reporter from a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station who at one point reminded him that he lost in the state by more than 10 points in 2008, not the “few percentage points” he claimed during the interview.

The reporter, Brad Watson, also asked Obama why he “was so unpopular in Texas.”

Finally, Obama responded: “If what you’re telling me is Texas is a conservative state, you’re absolutely right.”

As the interview ended, Obama admonished Watson, saying,  “Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?”

He also pushed back when pressed on whether the White House played a role in sending the space shuttle Endeavour to be exhibited in California, not Texas, which angered the Texas congressional delegation. Some accused Obama of playing politics with the move.

“That’s wrong. We had nothing to do with it,” Obama said. “The White House had nothing to do it.”

Here’s the video:

Now, your reaction to the video is largely going to depend on your political ideology I think. Conservatives are saying that the President was upset that the reporter wasn’t rolling over for him. Mediaite calls the reporter “combative.” John Cole, though, argues that this isn’t really that big of a deal:

Am I the only one to think that the reporter didn’t do anything out of line and that Obama didn’t chide the guy or look that irritated at all? Sure, he aggressively questioned Obama and had a right leaning stance, but so what? Obama can handle that. Every President should be able to handle the mildly adversarial questioning that was in this piece. I don’t know who this reporter is, and he may be a total ass, but what I saw on the video wasn’t that out of line to me.

I tend to agree. The “why aren’t you popular in Texas” question struck me as kind of dumb, but other than that it seemed like a fairly standard interview. To the extent it seemed different, I think you can ascribe that to the fact that the President isn’t used to interacting with this guy on a regular basis, and that a guy on a local station in Texas isn’t exactly used to interviewing the most powerful politician in the world.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    In what way was that testy or combative by either side? Go watch the BBC interview politicians if you want to see something approaching testy or combative.

    Oh, and saying “let me finish my answers” does not equal “don’t question my comments”. Or did I not hear that correctly?

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    Yeah, except for the “let me finish” line at the very end, it looked like a standard interview and, frankly, what more interviews should look like with this or any other President.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Obama was a bit grumpy but Watson was something of a smarmy jerk, clearly baiting him. It’s amateur hour all around.

  4. Joe says:

    Obama looked liked his usual smug and condecending self to me. He also said at 2:02 in the video that Texas has always been a Republican state. Pretty stupid for a president not to know that Texas voted solid Democrat for 150 years up until it was infested by millions of northern Republicans moving there for jobs in the 70’s during the last national economic collapse a Democrat gave this country. Also, Obama had everything to do with the decision no shuttle of any kind being sent to Texas, where all the astronauts live. He’s a proven liar. It was all about politics and everyone knows it.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    Also, Obama had everything to do with the decision no shuttle of any kind being sent to Texas, where all the astronauts live. He’s a proven liar. It was all about politics and everyone knows it.

    Source? Because I’m doubtful one exists.

  6. MM says:

    I’m calling Poe’s law on Joe.

  7. tom p says:

    I’m calling Poe’s law on Joe.

    for what good that does….

  8. Franklin says:

    Without a source Joe, we’re going to have to call you a proven liar from now on. Sorry, the rules are the rules.

    BTW, does anyone know anyone who has never told a lie?

  9. Neil Hudelson says: