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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Was it appropriate for White House press corps to question President about fiscal cliff instead of guns?

Did you happen to hear or watch the Wednesday Noon hour's Presidential news conference?

(Perhaps you heard it on one of our stations -- 1150 A.M.--WDEL or Delaware 105.9 F.M.--WXDE.)

The White House called the news conference to announce that new panel on gun control to be led by Vice President Biden.

But, true to form, White House reporters diverted from the start to ask about the fiscal cliff. Only much much later did reporters quiz the President on gun control.

Only at the end - as the President was leaving the podium - did one or more reporters bring up Benghazi.

This was NOT the first time that a Presidential news conference has abruptly detoured from the original topic.

(I particularly cringe when a President holds a news conference with a visiting foreign leader, and everyone pretends that visiting head-of-state isn't even in the room!)

A blogger at the UK newspaper - The GUARDIAN - castigates the White House press corps, and to some extent, the President himself.

What do you think? More guns, more fiscal cliff, or more other subjects (Benghazi; prospect for war with Iran; etc.)?

Here's that piece from The GUARDIAN...



http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/dec/19/white-house-press-corps-obama-news-conference/



Meanwhile, a Bloomberg News Service analysis projects U.S. gun deaths will exceed U.S. traffic fatalities by 2015...



http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-19/american-gun-deaths-to-exceed-traffic-fatalities-by-2015.html





Posted at 7:54am on December 20, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

teatime
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 8:10am

The Connecticut shootings are way past the 24-hour news cycle, so it's basically "old news" and not worth broaching unless Obama introduced a specific gun bill at his newser.

Fiscal cliff is top of mind, with the deadline rapidly approaching, and the paychecks of millions hang in the balanace. That's the top story now.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 8:35am
As any President will try to "control" the press (they all try), it is journalists' job to get the news, so sure, they should ask about any pressing issue, of which the fiscal cliff is top of the list, along with the gun control issue. Obama had to know they'd be asking fiscal cliff questions too. The press is also smart enough to know that IF they asked the gun control questions first, the Prez would then end the press conference as HIS agenda would have been completed, but by asking the fiscal cliff questions first, it forces the Prez to answer those and stick around to complete his agenda item. So in that small way, they for a few moments get to "control" the President. The public is served, because we get the answers to both topics.

JimH
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 9:31am
Fifteen years ago, I worked with WDEL news anchor/reporter Bill Wilmore. He was on Facebook yesterday going crazy (for him!) about this topic. Mr. Obama had called a news conference regarding gun control. That should have been the top item on the agenda. The topic had been made a new story yesterday by the announcement that Mr. Biden would be involved with the developing of gun control legislation.
The briefing could have been better focused by the President starting off by saying the topic was gun control. Questions on other topics would be entertained if time permitted. If a questioner goes off topic, that person should be told the question is inappropriate. The president deserves that respect.

Try walking into a meeting called by your manager or the CEO of your firm, a meeting called with an agenda to be discussed. And you attempt to redirect the meeting to discuss your OWN agenda. You would be put in your place quickly. The reporters have taken the position that they are more important than the president or any topic he wishes to address.

By the way, a pet peeve. They should no longer be called “press” conferences. They are news conferences attended by members of the media. The term “press” refers to the printing press. The majority of those in attendance are television and radio reporters. The others are from internet services. Even the newspapers are more internet-related than actual printing press-originated news sources. See how easy it is to divert a topic in my own direction!

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 9:54am
I didn't hear the press conference, but JimH said:
"The briefing could have been better focused by the President starting off by saying the topic was gun control. Questions on other topics would be entertained if time permitted. If a questioner goes off topic, that person should be told the question is inappropriate. The president deserves that respect."

I agree, if the Prez did say something like this then yes he does deserve that respect and the press should have respected the boundaries he set up. Good point JimH.


teatime
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 10:15am


You're treading a dangerous slippery slope when government officials control what the press may or may not talk about.

It's a moot point though, since the Connecticut shootings are one week old, way past the 24 hour news cycle, and definitely "old" news at this point.

The reason the White House press corps is asking about the fiscal cliff is because that is a current story, with an upcoming deadline that could impact millions of Americans. Far more relevant story than Connecticut which was talked out by last weekend.


kavips
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 11:08am
First, it was refreshing to hear WDEL cover the press conference in full during the Noon broadcast hour. I am sincerely grateful for the decision to do so, for it allowed me to hear the story for myself. (For the advertising wing, it also meant I was forced to hear the 4-6 o'clock news to catch up on what I'd missed..)

Secondly, as the Guardian pointed out, the press is allowed to ask any question it wants (it looked up the rules to prove it to itself).

Third, as Jim H and Bill Wilmore correctly surmise, also backed by the Guardian of London, the entire world was there to hear about guns... Unlike those very high income television personalities, the world was unconcerned where the final line in the sand would be drawn for the cut-off of the Bush Tax Cuts. In their defense, I guess if you are making $350,000... whether the line is $250,000 or $400,000 this close to the end of this tax year, is probably the top concern on your mind. You need to know whether or not you should make changes in the next 15 days.

26 dead. For most of the rest of America, the prime issue is whether we will, or will not, do something to prevent the same from again recurring... Apparently the Beltway Press is indeed out-of-touch with the rest of America...

I think the reality of the press conference answered Jake Tapper's question better than Obama did... Were it me, I would have answered Jake thusly:

"Look, here, in a press conference where the topic is fixing the problem that has occurred far too often in this country, I have to wade through three questions about completely unrelated topics before I can get to answer a single one about assault weapons... I think that reality, answers your question far better than I can... I can't get to what IS important, because you in the press keep demanding my answers to what is less important, at least to most Americans out there now... "

Arthur
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 2:22pm
"Try walking into a meeting called by your manager or the CEO of your firm, a meeting called with an agenda to be discussed. And you attempt to redirect the meeting to discuss your OWN agenda."

Last time I checked the President supposedly worked for US. So anytime a press conference is called, any news should be able to be asked. Was the tragedy in Connecticut horrible? Absolutely. Is the rest of the world concerned with what the fools in DC are doing? Most definitely.


mrpizza
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 10:54pm
I don't think there's anything to say here that hasn't already been said, so I'm going to put all this in God's hands and get a good night's sleep. Merry Christmas everybody.


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