I wrote about this earlier, when Joe Scarborough and his panel made fun of Barack Obama’s lack of intestinal fortitude with the White House press corps. ABC’s Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce aren’t laughing. In a detailed account of Obama’s distance from reporters on the White House beat, Tapper says that his interviews with entertainment reporters from People and Entertainment Tonight “disses” White House correspondents:
President Obama hasn’t formally taken questions from the White House press corps in more than two months, while on the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday he made time for reporters from People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight.
His last news conference was at the G20 in June, when he answered six questions from three reporters on the European debt crisis, the conflict in Syria, and the notion of politics stopping at the water’s edge.
The White House press corps has not formally been given the opportunity to ask questions of the president on U.S. soil since his appearance in the Briefing Room on June 8 (when he said “the private sector is doing fine.“)
His last formal White House news conference was on March 6.
Tapper asked Jay Carney when Obama plans to get around to talking with reporters from actual news agencies. Carney’s answer? “I don’t have any scheduling announcements to make.”
Actually, I’m mystified by the distance that Obama has put between himself and the White House press corps. They’ve treated Obama with a lot more deference than George W. Bush got. Even the tough questions don’t usually get follow-ups, and Obama has more or less mastered the art of filibustering to limit the number of questions asked at these events. Why not do more press avails and pressers? Why not arrange an interview with at least a more sympathetic member of the non-entertainment media, such as Brian Williams of NBC, if not a member of the press corps?
It seems like an odd time to antagonize the media closest to the White House — and if Jake Tapper is a measure of the resentment building within the briefing room, the incumbent struggling to make a case for a second term might find more skepticism for those arguments than ever.
Update: Maybe Obama’s afraid of questions like this:
@jaketapper to Carney: Is Obama’s Seamus ref “a part of this important policy debate?”
— Andrew Stiles (@AndrewStilesNRO) August 16, 2012