Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Press Conferences, Please

I guess I understand why Barack Obama doesn't do more news conferences. There's really not a whole lot of upside for him; he's probably better off doing sit-down interviews with people who can be counted on to lob softballs. And it's not as if he has difficulties finding a way to say something on the record that he wants to say. Moreover, the press seems to have given up on what they used to do back during the Nixon and Reagan administrations, non-stop complaining designed to bully the president into it.

Still, I wish he would do it more regularly. This was (according to CNN at least) the first one in three months, and I'd much rather see a couple of them a month. I don't have any illusions about how press conferences "force" the president to talk about things -- no one reaches that stage of politics without learning the technique of dodging questions. But this is one that I do have a bit of idealism about; I think it's healthy for the democracy for the president to go through the process, no matter how limited it is.

So good for Obama for doing it today (and he did fine; he's pretty good at the format now), but I'm hoping to see another one soon.


  1. He can't do them more often because it takes a lot of time to re-load the teleprompter. :-)

  2. Be careful here...it wasn't long ago that people criticized the president for "being on television all the time.

  3. I do like how he has embraced servicemen and women for their sacrifices to duty. Presidents should have a strong sense of responsibility towards taking care of those who protect the nation.

  4. It's not the cleanest record. I think Obama has now done more solo press conferences than Bush did, but I think he's lagged on joint press conferences (which is understandable, when you're not having to put together a "coalition" to invade Iraq, one of the members of which is from the much more press-conferency UK.)

    I like the point, though, because until I spent 2 minutes looking for the data, I had just ASSUMED that Obama had done way more than Bush, and I think that's not as much the case. Jake Tapper has the real data, compiled by Martha Kumar, at the link below.


  5. I think Obama shines during press conferences, but they tend to be about whatever the ADD press corps is on about and not what's important.

    And yeah, the press gets 'tired' of showing the President speaking somewhere, even to them. Which is sad. I literally cannot count the huge number of times I've come across some pundit saying, 'the President should say X this' when he just did say X that way, days or weeks before. Or some commenter whining the PResident doesn't talk about Y, when the PResident's speech the day before did in fact mention topic Y.

  6. Obama is continuing the post-Kennedy trend. Andy Rooney once did a commentary on this issue where he showed a graph on press conferences. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all did tons of them, with Ike doing the most. Post-Kennedy, nobody's done very many of them. (Bush 41 used to do them every week but then stopped when his approval ratings went down during the recession.)

    Advisors and image makers hate press conferences because they are unscripted.

  7. Screw press conferences. We need the equivalent of Britain's Prime Minister's question time. Nothing would be more clarifying for voters than seeing a back and forth between Obama and Boehner (or Paul Ryan or some other member the Speaker designated to take on Obama in his place).


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