President’s press conference ‘this’ in Korea and not in the US[정미경의 이런영어 저런미국]


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President Joe Biden’s first anniversary press conference in the East Room of the White House. White House website
“The best days of this country are still ahead of us, not behind us.”

Earlier this year, U.S. President Joe Biden said at a press conference on the first anniversary of his inauguration. This was the most noteworthy remarks from the conference. It was evaluated as a statement of comfort to the people in a situation where an inflation crisis is approaching following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, a press conference was held on the 100th day of the inauguration of the President of the Republic of Korea. Various opinions were expressed about the completeness of the interview. The press conference of the US president is quite different from that of Korea in terms of content and format. The biggest difference is that in the case of the United States, the president focuses on demonstrating his beliefs and philosophy as a leader rather than promoting performance or explaining policies. That’s why we call the press conference an “opportunity for character study”.

A press conference is like a battlefield between the president and reporters. ‘unscripted’, ‘unscreened’, and ‘unvetted’ are the three ‘un’ principles of the US President’s press conference. Journalists do not pre-submit questions or pre-determine which reporters will ask questions. This type of press conference has been regular since President John F Kennedy. Kennedy’s press conferences, in which the president and reporters were in a heated debate, were broadcast live on TV, and they garnered higher ratings than dramas.

President Biden, who often makes mistakes, doesn’t fit the press conference. Still, he does it with all his heart. During the press conference for his first anniversary of his inauguration, which lasted for a whopping two hours, he answered all the questions of 30 reporters in attendance. “I can do it for a few more hours,” he even joked. He showed signs of exhaustion, but only came down from the stage after confirming that there were no more questions from reporters. You can see the attitude of the President of the United States who views the press conference as an important channel for communication with the people. Let’s take a look at the famous scenes from the presidential press conference that are widely known among Americans.

President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. White House website

“You should know better.”

President Barack Obama has an outstanding speech. He’s such a good speaker, so he must have done a lot of press conferences, but he doesn’t. He’s been the least of five recent US presidents, at around 20 per year. But when he did, he did it for sure. It is a characteristic of the Obama press conference that he shows a confident appearance without answering the alumni or answering in a dry way.

In 2015, the Obama administration reached a nuclear deal with Iran. Instead of freezing Iran’s nuclear weapons development, the US gradually lifts economic sanctions. Although the negotiation was important enough to be dubbed “historical”, opposition was also strong. The issue of four American hostages detained in Iran is now being discussed. There was strong opposition to the conclusion of a deal with Iran in violation of the diplomatic principle of not negotiating with a terrorist country.

A question was asked at the press conference. CBS reporter Major Garrett told President Obama, “Are you satisfied with the conclusion of the negotiations when the hostage issue is not resolved?” (Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content to leave the conscience of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans). It was a sharp question about the “American conscience”.

President Obama did not shy away from an answer. After joking that “you worked hard to come up with a question that embarrass me,” he joked, “How can an American citizen be satisfied when he is imprisoned in an Iranian prison?” He then went on to say that “no one is satisfied,” he told the story of how he personally met the hostage family and that diplomatic efforts to release the hostage are underway. He ended his answer with the poignant advice to reporters: “You should know better” (you shouldn’t have asked that question).

“You should know better” literally means “you should know better”. It means “I shouldn’t have done that.” This is a method used to point out mistakes. If you criticize openly, the other person will feel offended, so it is used to point out politely. After being ‘rebuked’ by the president, Garrett became famous and later appeared on a talk show. He said he later apologized for saying “you should know better” by President Obama.

An American newspaper that featured President Richard Nixon’s press conference remarks “I’m not a crook”. New York Daily News capture

“I’m not a crook.”

In 1973, President Richard Nixon was a guest speaker at the General Meeting of the Editor-in-Chief of the Press. When it was time for a question-and-answer session, the questions of the Director General were focused on President Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal, which was the biggest issue at the time, and whether he was complicit in a cover-up.

“People need to know if the president is a scammer or not,” Nixon said excitedly. “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.” The repercussions of the speech were enormous. This is because the incumbent president used the rude word “cook” in his speech, which was broadcast live across the country. Controlling emotions and expressing them in a wise way is an important virtue of a president. The next morning, all the media headlines were covered with the phrase “I’m not a crook.” It is considered one of the most shocking remarks made at a presidential press conference in U.S. history.

‘Crook’ originally means ‘to bend’. It can also mean ‘hook’. It has the meaning of ‘reaching the goal in an unfair way’. Of course, President Nixon wrote in the negative sense that he was not a con artist, but the equation of ‘president = crook’ has settled in the minds of the people. Since then, in the political science and business textbooks, President Nixon’s ‘crook’ incident has been cited as a representative example of a negation method that a leader should never speak in public.

At the 1988 Republican National Convention, then Vice President George HW Bush announces a promise to “read my lips, no new taxes”. Republican National Convention website
“I’d like it to be a four-year pledge.”

Known as ‘Father Bush’, President George HW Bush became famous during the 1988 presidential campaign by saying “read my lips, no new taxes”. These remarks contributed decisively to the election of President Bush. But as the budget deficit grew after his inauguration, President Bush raised taxes.

Around the time tax hikes were being discussed in 1990, Leslie Stahl, a CBS reporter and host of the current affairs program ’60 Minutes’, at a press conference for President Bush, asked, “How many years is ‘Read Your Lips’ a promise?” “1 year, 2 years, 4 years?” (is that a 1-year pledge, 2-year pledge, 4-year pledge?) It was a question about whether it was a promise to be scrapped after a year or two of noisy publicity, or a promise that would be pushed to the end of the president’s term. After a moment’s hesitation, President Bush replied, “It’s a four-year promise.” It was a moment when he had no choice but to admit that he had failed to live up to his greatest promise.

Such questions are called “gotcha questions”. An abbreviation for “I got you”, this is a guiding question that drives the opponent into a corner. The person being questioned is compelled to give an unfavorable answer, knowing that credibility is being compromised. But these subtle questions can also backfire. It is because the people understand that the promise cannot be kept depending on the circumstances. Stahl later said he regretted asking this question at President Bush’s funeral.

● The quality of sayings


Reporter Helen Thomas covers President Lyndon Johnson with male reporters at a press conference in the Oval Office of the White House in 1968. Excerpt from Helen Thomas’ autobiography ‘Front Row with Helen Thomas’
The center seat in the front row of the White House press room was reserved for reporter Helen Thomas, the first woman to enter the White House. She had the first question right at the presidential press conference, and at the end of the interview she said, “thank you, Mr. President” was also Thomas’s authority.

However, Thomas’ pro-Palestinian views on Middle East affairs were not welcomed by the Jewish press. In an interview with a Jewish group in 2010, he said, “Israel is not the land of the Jews. Go to Poland or Germany or America,” he stepped down from his journalistic job as his remarks became problematic. He passed away three years later in 2013 at the age of 92. American female journalists lamented Thomas as a “trailblazer” (a pioneer) and a “glass ceiling breaker”.

“Everything in the White House is classified. The color of the walls? they would even classify that.”

In a 2000 address to the National Press Club, Thomas criticized White House secrecy. It is an attribute of power that even the obvious wall color wants to be kept secret. I’ve heard that Thomas’s humor is a brilliant answer.

Papers handled by the White House are stamped with a red stamp of ‘classified’. It means ‘confidential’. ‘classify’ has two meanings. It means ‘classify’, and it also means ‘treat as confidential’. The word ‘declassified’ appears frequently in the recent FBI raid on President Donald Trump’s home. President Trump claims that the White House documents he took out were ‘declassified’ prior to his departure, but judicial authorities have determined that he did not go through a formal declassification process.

● Real Bokeh 360


President Joe Biden and his wife tour the disaster-affected state of Kentucky, where a school bus that was washed away in heavy rain collides with a building. White House website

This is a corner where you can learn English using easy words that are often used in everyday life. President Biden, who had been quarantined at the White House for more than a week after testing positive for COVID-19, visited the disaster area of ​​Kentucky as soon as the quarantine was lifted. Recent record heavy rains have killed 38 people and caused massive property damage.

After visiting the site of the flood, President Biden gave a speech at an elementary school shelter. He emphasized that “we are one team”, meaning there can be no political dissent in disaster response.

△“When I got elected, I promised to be, and it’s not hyperbole, the president to all Americans.”

“I swore to be president for all Americans,” recalling his presidential election speech. He said “it’s not hyperbole” to emphasize this statement. It means “This is not bluff” or “It is not empty words”.

‘hyperbole’ means ‘bluff’ or ‘exaggeration’. It is a combination of hyper (to inflate) and bole (to speak). There are many Koreans who do not know ‘hyperbole’ but know ‘hype’. The abbreviation for ‘hyperbole’ is ‘hype’. When an interesting social phenomenon appears, the media jumps in and emphasizes it is called ‘media hype’. A lot of interest in metaverse these days is called ‘metaverse hype’.

● This and that rewind


This is a corner that selects key items from the ‘This English, That America’ column, which has been serialized for a long time through the newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, and delivers the content as it is. Today is about President Trump’s press conference introduced on March 5, 2019. In terms of fun, nothing beats Trump’s press conference. It’s like watching a reality show hosted by broadcaster Trump.
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019. White House website
▶March 5, 2019
https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20190305/94389457/1

“He doesn’t lecture, he fights”. Here’s what an American political commentator said about President Donald Trump. President Trump fights while other presidents preach. He shines at his brightest when he sets out his enemies and unleashes a raging attack. Because he understands the nature of the media, he makes full use of the fact that fights are more impressive on TV screens than sermons.

President Trump’s press conference, held after the collapse of the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, did not have much ‘drama’. As the agreement failed, there was no one to pour out criticism, which is President Trump’s main specialty. However, while standing in front of the microphone, President Trump, who speaks well, spent an hour discussing the details of the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“He is quite a character.”  

This is what President Trump said about Chairman Kim. ‘quite a character’ means ‘unusual character’. It means ‘there is no other person’ or ‘a person is a character’. It is mainly used to praise the other person, but it is also often used to criticize. When referring to a stubborn person, we say “he is quite a character”.

“I happen to believe that North Korea’s calling its own shots.”

It was in response to a question about China’s influence on North Korea. ‘Call its own shots’ means ‘you decide for yourself’. China’s influence is limited. Trump, the president said ‘happen to believe’, not ‘believe’. It means ‘I am one of those who believe’ or ‘I came to believe after a lot of thought’. It is used when you are a little unsure or your opinion feels like a minority.

“I’d much rather do it right than do it fast.”

“I was ready to sign the agreement, but at the last minute I decided not to,” Trump said. “It is more important to do things right than to do things quickly,” he said. Americans value ‘do it right’ (without gaps and errors) over ‘do it fast’.


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