The reason we know that the questioners are incompetent reporters is that this is a pointless question. Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, "is the house in better shape than when you got here?"
Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question. Hence George Stephanopoulos was being absurd when he posed this question to David Plouffe, a top political adviser to President Obama on ABC's This Week. Bob Schieffer was being equally silly when he asked Martin O’Malley, the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, the same question on CBS's Face the Nation.
A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires.
Similarly, serious reporters would ask whether the stimulus was large enough, was it well-designed, and were there other measures that could have been taken like promoting shorter workweeks, as Germany has done. That would of course require some knowledge of economics, but it sure makes more sense than asking if a house is better off after it was nearly burnt to the ground.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008:
If there was any doubt left among voters, pundits, and politicos alike that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin was based purely on politics, tonight's speech should lay to rest any notion that Republicans chose their candidate based on anything other than a shallow political calculus.
With her snarky, amateurish, almost Student Council-like speech, Palin proved today that she can attack like a candidate for vice-president. And she demonstrated that she can support the top of the ticket like a candidate for vice-president.
But nowhere in her speech did she demonstrate that she can be vice-president. She's still the former Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who didn't even know what the vice-president did until a couple weeks ago, who admitted that she doesn't pay attention to Iraq, who's stonewalling investigations into her alleged misconduct, and who took advantage of the very earmark process she claims to be against.
In sum, she demonstrated that while she can serve as the second person on a ticket, she is unquestionably not ready to serve as the second most powerful person in the world.