Not taking questions from Reporters


Over the last two weeks, President Obama has taken questions from unemployed workers in Ohio, students in Florida and a cancer survivor in New Hampshire. He took questions from YouTube users, Senate Democrats and even House Republicans. Almost everyone, it seems, but the White House press corps.

Barack Obama between flags SC

After a year in office, Mr. Obama has managed to do what every modern president may have wanted to do but never did: effectively shut out the reporters who work just a few feet from the Oval Office. He has not had a full-scale White House news conference in seven months, the longest such stretch by any president in a decade. And he has made a practice of not taking reporters’ questions at day-to-day events, as other presidents did.

None of that means that Mr. Obama has shielded himself from public scrutiny. But he has fundamentally altered the way a president deals with the news media. Instead of open-ended sessions with multiple reporters, he prefers one-on-one interviews, particularly with television anchors. He gives far more interviews than his two most recent predecessors did, reflecting the conclusion that the format is a more effective means for getting his message through.

“He’s getting plenty of tough questions,” said Joe Lockhart, a press secretary for President Bill Clinton. “I just think they want to put him in environments where he can demonstrate both his mastery of the subject and make a compelling case for his agenda. A White House press conference isn’t at the top of that list. That’s just the reality.”

Read More: By PETER BAKER, New York Times


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