WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Frustration building in White House press corps over lack of access to the President

Some of the President's greatest critics (mostly, but not exclusively, on the political Right) assumes the White House press corps has a love affair with President Obama.

That simply isn't so.

Sure, to the extent members of the press corps grew up in big cities and suburbs - and were educated at more elite universities (some, not all) - they may have more in common with this President than with a staunchly conservative member of Congress representing a rural district.

But, the current White House press corps has been chafing at White House press restrictions.

Indeed, the situation reached a tipping point this past weekend over the lack of acess given to the President during his trip to Florida.

White House Correspondents Association President Ed Henry issued a statement:

"Speaking on behalf of the White House Correspondents Association, I can say a broad cross-section of our members from print, radio, on-line, and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend. There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency."

The President was vacationing in Palm City, Florida, staying at a private resort, The Floridian Yacht and Golf Club. The President hit the links with Tiger Woods and resort owner Jim Crane.

It took a writer from GOLF DIGEST - Tim Rosaforte - to break the story of the outing. No photo op for the press corps, not that the "hard news" reporters really cared.

Perhaps all this prompted this account in POLITICO about the Administration's manipulation of the press...


Bottom line:

Between "softball" interview shows on television; late night TV shows; and ideologically driven talk show hosts of Right and Left interviewing their "own", we're witnessing a fundamental breakdown of the media/political culture in which the 4th Estate provided something of a check on politicians of all stripes.

Only a couple of decades ago, it was EXPECTED that a President, member of Congress, Governor, etc., would regularly hold news conferences, submit to one-on-one interviews with "regular" media people, etc.

Now, a conservative can confine his/her interviews to FOX, conservative talk hosts, and conservative editorial boards. A liberal can confine his/her interviews to MS NBC, liberal talk hosts, and liberal editorial boards. Depending on popular appeal, that same politician might go on a late-night show or "The View" or answer mindless questions on social media.

A sign of America's intellectual decline -- or just smart politics?

Posted at 7:36am on February 19, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 7:58am
The president was on vacation ---key word "vacation"--- so he was off-limits. Even if they gave access to the president on vacation, what the heck were they going to ask him anyway? How's your golf swing?

There's also the sense of grand entitlement by the news media, that reporters are "entitled" to interviews to whomever they choose. The truth is, nobody has to do an interview about anything, unless they choose to do so.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 8:22am
I'd say both, smart politics and a sign of America's intellectual decline.

NPR and PBS both do long-form newscasts and interviews. Both get respectable ratings and donors, but definitely not the most-watched or listened-to programs on radio or TV, thus representing a tiny part of the American voting public watch or listen to either NPR or PBS.

Same with the networks' TV news shows (how sad they're now considered to be shows - that also might offer some clarity to the issue) have been losing viewers for years.

The younger demos generally don't read a newspaper, don't listen to the radio (especially news-oriented programming), or watch TV for news-oriented programming. That demo prefers such intellectual programming as 2 1/2 Men or How I Met Your Mother, or some "reality" show, etc. Where they go to get their news IS such shows as Colbert Report, Comedy Central, Jay Leno, Letterman, Saturday Night Live, etc. Kind of scary that Jay Leno has become the "Walter Cronkite" of the 21st century.

As our society is being more fractured and partisan, definitely people are listening to or watching the station that airs their view of the world, so yes Conservatives love Rush/Beck/Hannity/Jensen/Fox News/Washington Times, etc. Liberals love NPR/Rhodes/Missetti/MSNBC/Democracy NOW/ NY Times, etc.

Politicians, being what they are, definitely are using this divide to their advantage. Sure, Obama avoids Fox News like the plague, just as Sarah Palin avoided MSNBC and tried as much as possible to stay away from the "lame stream media" to use her words.

Maybe the reason Obama didn't want all that press coverage while golfing with Tiger Woods is, Obama knew he'd not be the focus as Tiger is a great golfer and the public is far more interested in him (and HIS life) than the Prez.

Maybe the Prez just wanted a couple of days to unwind without some reporter shoving a microphone in his face or flashing a photo where he could have a few laughs and play golf. Living in a fish-bowl must get old after a while, even for a larger-than-life Egos that most politicians have.

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 10:32am
Younger members of the media are caught up in the current social network mentality. A person is expected to be available 24/7. Cell-phone availability now gives you internet access, so you should be available to e-mail, voice mail and social media at all times. Responses are expected in a matter of minutes.
I often send out reports and receive this response: “I am out of the office. I have limited access to e-mail and voice mail.” In other words, even ordinary everyday workers deserve time away. However, when you return, a response will be expected. Your time off will normally be respected IF you respond upon your return.
That is where Mr. Obama fails. The media members who felt “Thrill(s) up their legs” in the past, are now frustrated because the love is not returned. For those frustrated at lack of holiday access, they should get over themselves. Mr. Obama deserves time away from them, even if they did put him in office. He even deserves time away from his wife and kids. When he returns and decides to spend time in the office, he should meet with the media and respond to their needs. But at the same time, they need to understand that he has more important things to do than responding to their self importance 24/7.
But we come back to a basic problem Mr. Obama has with his job. He refuses to acknowledge that his position has two roles. He is Head of State and he is Head of Government. He completely enjoys the Head of State role. Being our Queen Elizabeth II is his mission in life (imagine the Queen holding a news conference!) But being Head of Government (the British David Cameron) requires a lot of detailed work where “the buck stops here”. He refuses to perform any role where he might have to answer for his actions.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 10:48am
JimH: Well said.

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 1:19pm

I think a much bigger story is that Michelle Obama doesn't seem to want to be around her husband during vacation. Of course, there was the infamous shopping spree where Michelle went to Europe, leaving her husband home, alone, on his birthday.

Now, Barack Obama goes golfing in Florida, but Michelle takes a 'separate' vacation by herself in Aspen, Colorado.

How come Michelle doesn't want to be around her own husband during their vacations?

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 3:09pm
Maybe its Barack who doesn't want to be around Michelle on his vacation. That way he can eat and smoke without any grief - heh heh.

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 9:10pm
I caught a breath of fresh air Saturday night. Harley Carnes was on WPHT 1210 as a substitute host. It's so good to know that not everybody at CBS is hard left liberal. Harley did a great show in his gentlemanly style, just as he does with the top-of-the-hour newscasts. Even when the ranters called in, Harley just stayed cool throughout the whole thing.

To my pleasant surprise, Harley Carnes is a true constitutional conservative. As a host, he's just simple no nonsense/no frills 2-way talk. Very enjoyable.

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 5:28am
It seems to me that if the president doesn't want to be bothered with the press, then they should seek out Jessie Jackson and/or Al Sharpton, who never saw an opportunity to get their face on TV they didn't like.

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 11:02pm
Allan, sometime this past year I listened to you do an amazing full lunch hour interview with an African Cardinal, who later went on to Elizabeth Ann Seton. (or am I mistaken and was it a Bishop?) If it was a Cardinal, is this one of the ones up for Pope?

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