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Commentary: Obama needs to answer annoying questions

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  • Brown: Obama criticized Clinton on foreign policy, but now embraces her
  • When reporter asks about the change, he brushes off question, she notes
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By Campbell Brown
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Editor's note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN's "Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the "Cutting through the Bull" segment of Monday night's broadcast.

CNN's Campbell Brown says Barack Obama can't brush off questions from the press.

CNN's Campbell Brown says Barack Obama can't brush off questions from the press.

(CNN) -- No one here needs to be reminded of how heated things got between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the campaign.

She trashed him, saying he wasn't ready to be commander in chief. He trashed her, mocking her foreign policy experience as first lady.

Well, now of course they have put all of that behind them so she can become his secretary of state. Naturally, given all that was said, this issue came up during an exchange with reporters Monday. This is worth listening to:

Reporter: You talked about the importance just now of having different voices and robust debate within your administration, but again going back to the campaign, you were asked and talked about the qualifications of the -- now your nominee for secretary of state and you belittled her travels around the world, equated it to having teas with foreign leaders. And your new White House counsel said her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I'm wondering if you can talk about the evolution of your views of her credentials since the spring? Video Watch Campbell Brown's commentary »

Obama: I think this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand, and you're having fun.

There we go again. The pesky media, all we want to do is have a little fun, stir things up for our own amusement.

Really, how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience just a few months ago and yet now you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team?

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It's a clever device, treating a question so dismissively in an attempt to delegitimize it, as annoying as you may have found it. It is a fair question.

It was only in March of this year that Greg Craig put out a memo outlining point by point her foreign policy claims, calling them all exaggerated, just words, not supported by her record.

Now, look, maybe you regret what you said about Hillary Clinton. Maybe it was as you suggested Monday, all just said in the heat of the campaign.

If that is the case and you are both now rising above it, you deserve to be commended for that and could have been explicit in saying all of that Monday.

You could have explained the evolution of your thinking, instead of belittling a question you didn't like.

Mr. President-elect, reporters we hope are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years. Get used to it.

That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable, but this isn't about the media, it's about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn't.

Apparently, as you made clear Monday, you didn't mean what you said about Hillary Clinton. So what else didn't you mean?


The media is going to be asking, and you were wrong Monday. Annoying questions are about more than just the press having fun. Annoying questions are about the press doing its job, and the people's right to know.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Campbell Brown.

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