Obama’s record on availability to the media not that bad

April 22, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
Mark Knoller of CBS News, center, waits for the start of the daily press briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at the White House in this 2011 photo. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Mark Knoller of CBS News, center, waits for the start of the daily press briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at the White House in this 2011 photo. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama and the White House communication team have clearly frustrated the White House press corps.

But it’s not quite as if the guy has been hiding out in a cave in North Dakota, as is suggested by CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller’s legendary compiling of presidential data.

The White House Correspondents Association on Wednesday distributed a tentative new set of coverage principles and a set of proposed practices on access to what President Obama does and says.

The practices are inspired by growing tensions over a perceived decline in access to him and to images of his day. Each proposed practice is premised on what the association believes is often premeditated avoidance and include:

  • “The President takes questions from the press on a regular basis, no less than once per week, and is available in response to significant news developments.”
  • “The President holds full press conferences at least once a month and takes questions frequently from the pool.”
  • “The President allows the pool to witness and record him or her at work on a regular basis.”
  • “The press corps or its designated pool sees the President frequently on working days, and sees the President on weekends and holidays whenever there are movements by the protective pool.”
  • “When the President leaves his or her domicile, he or she is always accompanied by a protective pool that visually witnesses, at the least, arrivals and departures from any place of entrance or exit that is in view of the public, and covers the President in the act of doing the public’s business.”
  • “Briefings are on the record, as a general practice. Background briefings, in which speakers are not identified, are reserved for subjects of special sensitivity.”

I contacted Knoller, who records about as much as any White House reporter can, and asked what he’s got when it comes to Obama taking questions.

It’s clear that despite the many shared grievances of reporters, Obama is not invisible and mute even as the White House dependence on more traditional forms of communications, such as elite newspapers, has inevitably declined and its quest to “manage” Obama’s messaging and image is unabated and not always very successful.

Here’s what Knoller emailed:

  • “Since taking office, Obama has done 33 formal WH press conferences and a total of 179 events at which he took at least one question.”
  • “Compares at same point in presidency to George W Bush: 33 news conferences and total of 164 press avails of at least one question.”
  • “Obama has done many interviews – 850 since taking office. Far more than his predecessors, but don’t have numbers for them.”
  • Comments

    Comments are closed.