One reason that politicians and other officials can avoid addressing hard questions at press conferences is because each journalist is usually given the chance to ask just one question. The politician can answer evasively or dismissively and the microphone then passes to the next questioner who usually asks a different question and does not follow up on the non-answer to the previous one.
But via BoingBoing, I came across this press conference in Ireland where journalist Vincent Browne refuses to give up the microphone and doggedly demands that a bureaucrat from the European Central Bank answer why the Irish people should bail out European banks that gave out unsecured loans that went bad. In other words, the Irish public became the unwitting and unwilling insurers of private banks and ended up reimbursing them for the losses they incurred because of their own recklessness.
The moderator tries the usual tricks to try and move on so that the ECB bureaucrat is not embarrassed but Browne appeals to Irish journalistic traditions that say that he has the right to ask follow up questions and refuses to yield the floor, thus clearly showing how the speaker was evading the issue.
I don’t know if Browne was making up that stuff about Irish journalistic traditions as a way to stymie the moderator but if it is not already a tradition, it should become one. Why doesn’t our press corps follow the Irish example?