Show Some Respect: Be Polite to the President?


Woodrow Wilson was the president who invented the formal press conference—and immediately was regretted it, according to a story we read recently on CNN.

After newspapers printed rumors of Wilson’s daughter’s romantic liaisons, the president declared: “This must stop! On the next offense, I shall do what any other indignant father would do. I will punch the man who prints it on the nose.”

Things went downhill from there. At a 1973 press conference, when Richard Nixon was president, he complained, “I have never seen or heard such outrageous, vicious, gutter reporting in 27 years of public life.” A few weeks ago, a journalist repeatedly interrupted President Barack while he was making a statement, prompting him to stop and call for silence.

Should journalists treat the president with greater deference? According to the CNN story, written by Oxford University historian Timothy Stanley, it’s unlikely to happen any time soon: “Times are tough in America right now and when things get rough, people inevitably turn on their leaders.”

Does the president deserve more respect, simply for being the president? Tell us your thoughts.

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