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December 19, 2012 1:26 PM Expect Off Topic Questions When You’re Inaccessible

By Samuel Knight

More thoughts on today’s White House presser: While gun control is an important issue, and one that clearly needs addressing after the depraved Newtown massacre, criticism of reporters’ fiscal cliff questions was a touch harsh.

For one, the President has just proposed to cut Social Security, and deserves to held to account. Budget woes might be trumped up by the right, but — like it or not — cuts are happening and our leaders must be forced to justify them.

Secondly, as a POLITICO reporter (and, full disclosure, friend) Byron Tau pointed out on Twitter:”If the White House wanted reporters to ask about the topic of the day, it should offer the press corp [sic] more routine access to Obama.” (Not that I would describe Newtown as a “topic of the day,” but we can multitask, can we not? Cuts to the social safety net could end up harming just as many, if not more people than gun violence, after all).

But has Obama really been that hermetic with regard to media access? As of May, he had granted one more press conference than Dubya and far more solo Q&A’s. But Clinton, at the same juncture, had given 116 press conferences compared to Obama’s 68 pressers and Dubya’s 67. Does a man who had once promised to preside over the “most transparent administration in history,” really want to measure up to the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush in this respect?

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on December 19, 2012 2:31 PM:

    Clinton lived for pressers.
    He loved showing off!

    Bush, was inarticulate, as well as stupid and ignorant, so he dodged them.
    'Better to keep one's mouth shut, and be thought a fool, than open it, and remove all doubt."
    And, I think he was functionally smart enough to know that he was an idiot, and liable to say something stupid, so he stuck to scripts and talking points as often as possible.

    But the meme on Obama is, "Well, he sure talks pretty, don't he?", so, maybe he's trying to minimize accusations of that.

    Besides, the members of the WH Press Corpse (sic) have gotten far more stupid over the past 20 years, and much more liable to start spouting Republican talking points and memes, so why would the President want to expose himself to people who always want the option of a job at FOX, so they frame questions in conservative ways?

    Having said that, I do wish he spoke to them more often. Just to make them have to think every once in awhile.

  • Calcixeroll on December 19, 2012 2:37 PM:

    Sam,

    Do you really believe that the WH "press" corps availabilities are the _only_ manner by which the WH provides transparency?

  • Kathryn on December 19, 2012 2:47 PM:

    Why do "journalist's" like Jake Tapper have to be, or seem to be, so hostile when they ask a question? Agree with CUND's last sentence, making them exercise their gray matter more frequently would useful. But mostly, the press corps seems less interested in obtaining information and more interested in treating the President as the enemy they have to interrogate.

  • BC on December 19, 2012 2:53 PM:

    Let's go back in time to 2009, when President Obama was giving press conferences almost monthly that were televised live and the media started complaining about it, he was pre-empting the soaps or some other very informative programming that would inform the American people better than listening to the President of the USA communicate via the media. Then the Republicans began complaining that he was just grand standing and could only answer reporters' questions with the help of the giant presidential teleprompter and it soon became more of a hassle than it was worth. If the media don't like the few press conferences this president has, then they only have to look in mirror to understand why there are so few.

  • Anonymous on December 19, 2012 3:14 PM:

    "For one, the President has just proposed to cut Social Security, and deserves to held to account."

    True.

    But when will we wake up to see that accountability went away when the plutocracy came in?

  • EveinGeorgia on December 19, 2012 3:15 PM:

    I have enjoyed the first four responses to this article.

    I remember how he was criticized at the beginning of his presidency for showing up too much.

    Comparing him to Bush or to Clinton, even, is an exercise in irrelevance.

    I don't get the title of this post. President Obama did not seem to mind the questions he was getting. In fact, he took his time answering each question concerning the fiscal cliff.

    Why direct the article to the one who offered no complaint? He gave his answers with patience and characteristic grace.

    It was us the viewers who expressed disgust at the press, not the president. Boy, this president should have "Blame Me" tattooed on his forehead, then articles like this one would make some sense.

  • EveinGeorgia on December 19, 2012 3:17 PM:

    I have enjoyed the first four responses to this article.

    I remember how he was criticized at the beginning of his presidency for showing up too much.

    Comparing him to Bush or to Clinton, even, is an exercise in irrelevance.

    I don't get the title of this post. President Obama did not seem to mind the questions he was getting. In fact, he took his time answering each question concerning the fiscal cliff.

    Why direct the article to the one who offered no complaint? He gave his answers with patience and characteristic grace.

    It was us the viewers who expressed disgust at the press, not the president. Boy, this president should have "Blame Me" tattooed on his forehead, then articles like this one would make some sense.

  • James on December 19, 2012 3:17 PM:

    That's just hogwash. Obama gave a number of pressers early in his term, but they were so inane and unproductive that the comm team decided that interviews were a better choice. Go back and watch some of those early press conferences -- Chuck Todd and Ed Henry sashaying in front of the camera, all the irrelevant, stupid questions, generating stupid media frenzies over the most inane stuff, while we were trying to pull out of a catastrophic financial collapse. See: Henry Louis Gates.

    Believe me, I watch the daily White House briefing, and this White House clown posse is this bad every day. EVERY day. Jay Carney has the patience of Job to deal with these inane, vacuous drama queens.

  • dalloway on December 19, 2012 3:17 PM:

    He's trying to govern in spite of the least loyal opposition in history. Maybe he's worried about accidentally telling the truth in a presser, that these Republicans are the biggest assholes the Republic has yet produced.

  • schtick on December 19, 2012 3:17 PM:

    We already know Obama is gonna cave and make cuts to Social Security and Medicare after he promised not to. So why do we need to have a press conference for him to tell us? It would only be news if he finally admitted he's a closet republican.

  • Bootoomee on December 19, 2012 3:24 PM:

    @EveinGeorgia

    I cannot agree with you (and the other posters) more. I am not surprised though. From the author's disclosure, he is friends with one of beltway 'geniuses' at POLITICO (a particularly anti-Obama one for that matter). Based on his friendship, I can clearly see why he writes stuff like this.

    Hope to have Ed back soon.

  • Zenster on December 19, 2012 3:27 PM:

    "...measure up to the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush in this respect?"

    The presidency exists as an entity locked into it's own inexorable seizure of power. Of course he's gonna follow Bush (and Clinton and Bush and Reagan and Carter ad nauseum).

  • NCSteve on December 19, 2012 3:35 PM:

    The thing about Tapper is that he thinks "being a tough, hard-hitting journalist" is synonymous with "being a dick" such that merely being a dick is all it takes. He thinks just being a dick makes him a hard-hitting journalist.

    Back when we had real journalists, some of them, like Cronkite, managed to be tough, hard-hitting journalists without being total dicks. For some, like Sam Donaldson, major league dickishness was a side effect of the way they went about being tough, hard hitting journalists. And some were just people who happened to be dicks who were also good reporters.

    But in today's degenerate MSM, the blow-dried communications majors and local TV news readers who pass for journalists, we have a whole generation of people like Tapper and Michael Scherer and about 80% of the people who work for Politico who think the two are one and the same.

  • LAC on December 19, 2012 3:45 PM:

    Gee, don't we just love a defensive press corps? No criticism is welcomed, no insight welcomed. Just whining about being criticized. And Politico? Friend or not, that rag is what is wrong with journalism today.

    Shorter press corp argument: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

  • SandyT on December 19, 2012 4:52 PM:

    I seem to remember George Will complaining that Pres. Obama was ubiquitous!

  • jjm on December 19, 2012 5:29 PM:

    A non-issue.

  • T2 on December 19, 2012 5:46 PM:

    guys like Tapper and some of the others that like to zing Obama with "hard-hitting" questions seem to get a bit weak-in-the-knees when its a Republican standing at the podium, don't they.
    Where's Tapper at Boehner's presser, asking "Mr. Speaker, your "Plan B" is the laughing stock of D.C., it's a transparent political ploy, not a real attempt to solve the problem, is it?"

  • Ron Byers on December 20, 2012 8:43 AM:

    Two posts defending the White House Press Corps is two posts too many. If they can't take the heat, maybe Jack Tapper and the "journalists" at Politico should get out of the kitchen.

    I agree you don't have to be a dick to ask tough questions. More importantly being a dick doesn't prove you are asking tough questions.

    By the way, since Ed left for vacation, I have been getting numerous error messages when I log on to this site. Apparently some of our guest bloggers don't know much about html. They are not closing daughter objects to allow the primary objects to open. That failure probably explains why comments on this site have fallen in Ed's absence.