Henry et al. have kicked off a kind of debate about the Obama administration’s atrocious record of letting the press corps talk to the president. The debate has raged from the pages of Politico to … well, to the pages of Politico. But the magazine/website/cult is right on this one. George W. Bush took questions after 355 events; Obama has taken questions after only 107 events. The president’s held 35 press conferences, but only a few in primetime.
Obama’s contempt for the press corps runs long and deep. In the 2008 campaign, he could go weeks without an “avail.” In March 2008, at a low point before the Ohio and Texas primaries, Obama tried to end a press conference and looked shocked that the press kept shouting at him. “C’mon, guys,” he said. “I just answered, like, eight questions!” …
Surely, the White House press corps can do better than this. “Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on ‘The View’?” wrote Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen in Politico. “The president has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions.”
If that’s true, why isn’t the daily coverage coming out of the White House more interesting? Why doesn’t anything resembling news come out of the daily Q&As?