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.
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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