Is the White House freezing Fox out of pressers?

posted at 10:01 am on January 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s no secret that Fox News is not Barack Obama’s favorite news channel.  In his first year, the White House more or less declared war on Fox, suspending its strategy only when other media outlets began to publicly criticize Obama for it, blocking the White House attempt to freeze Fox out of coverage.  They may have relented publicly on the deep freeze, but a new study by the University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier suggests that the Obama administration has quietly imposed a big chill on Fox instead:

Over the course of the president’s first term, he has generally maintained the tiered approach as to which outlets ask the questions (with the Big 3 and Associated Press usually getting the green light), although the president has departed from tradition on occasion – famously calling on a digital-only media outlet’s reporter (Huffington Post’s Sam Stein) during his first news conference in February 2009.

But as for FOX, these have been relatively lean years in terms of getting the presidential nod at news conferences, particularly in light of the news outlet’s reach vis-à-vis some of the other media organizations which have received more questions.

How lean?

A Smart Politics analysis finds that ABC reporters have been called on the most frequently during Barack Obama’s solo news conferences followed by CBS, the Associated Press, and NBC with FOX News coming in at a distant ninth at less than half the rate of the top outlets and less than 40 percent of press conferences overall.

During that time, Fox has been the highest-rated cable news network, a lead which hasn’t been seriously challenged since before Obama took office.  That ninth-place position only applies to the entirety of the term, too.  As Eric points out, Fox has only been allowed one question in the last six pressers Obama has given.  Ed Henry, who moved from CNN to Fox, got a lot more attention when representing his former employer.

Until his move to CNN and out of the White House press corps, Jake Tapper was the leading question-getter at 23, but NBC’s Chuck Todd tied Tapper in Monday’s presser.  Todd, however, has the lead for followup questions, and it’s apparently not close:

Todd, who is perhaps the King of the follow-up question, has made the most of the 23 news conferences in which his name has been called by the president.

Todd has been able to parlay this into 52 series of questions and follow-up questions (excluding multiple questions posed within one series), including multiple queries to the president on the debt ceiling on Monday.

The Fox chill seems to be a more recent phenomenon, over the past year, rather than a sustained effort from the 2009 War on Fox.  It’s not much of a secret why Obama would want to avoid Fox News in his pressers, although Todd and Major Garrett didn’t give Obama an easy ride on Monday, either, but perhaps a question of why lately.


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