Critics Trash Talk Obama For Doing ESPN Brackets During Multiple Crises : It's All Politics President Obama drew criticism for doing his ESPN brackets amid domestic and world crises and for talking during the taping about how Americans could help the Japan relief effort.
NPR logo Critics Trash Talk Obama For Doing ESPN Brackets During Multiple Crises

Critics Trash Talk Obama For Doing ESPN Brackets During Multiple Crises

Screenshot of President Obama on ESPN choosing his NCAA brackets.

Being president means getting criticized, even when you do something as ostensibly non-controversial as appearing on ESPN to unveil your NCAA March Madness brackets.

(Actually, President Obama picked Kansas to beat Ohio State in the finals which will be pretty controversial in some quarters. Is he writing off Ohio's electoral votes for 2012?)

Anyway, some are questioning the propriety of the president giving ESPN a few minutes of his precious time with all the crises going on, from the federal budget battle to Libya to Japan.

Obama used the first few moments of the ESPN taping to ask viewers to donate to Japanese relief efforts, proving he wasn't ignoring the world beyond the walls of the White House.

But even that was questioned, with a reporter asking White House press secretary Jay Carney if it was appropriate for the president to discuss the Japan tragedy while standing before a white board with his brackets.

Not surprisingly, Carney defended the president.

Here's the exchange:

REPORTER: And final question. Is it entirely appropriate for the
president to be addressing a crisis of this gravity as he's standing
before a whiteboard talking about the basketball tournament?

MR. CARNEY: There are crises all the time, and for every
president. And again, this one is happening halfway around the world,
and it is severe, and it is important, and it is the focus of a great
deal of the president's attention, as are the events in the Middle
East, as are the agenda items that he is pursuing to grow the economy
and increase jobs in America and make sure we out-innovate, out-build
and out-educate the competition in the 21st century.

You know, it's a hard job. It requires a lot. It is also
important — you know, one of the things I would note that the
president did in the very brief interview on ESPN and ESPN2 was ask
Americans, as they were filling out their own brackets, to take the
time to go to and make donations to a variety of charitable
organizations that are — that are organizing donations to help the
Japanese in this very serious situation that they find themselves in.

So yes, I do think it was appropriate.