That’s what my friend Julie Mason over at POLITICO figured out and has shared with us all.
Jules noticed that the openness president has stopped taking questions from the White House press corps, though White House Press Secretary Jay Carney promises, PROMISES he’ll do so soon.
Obama not only takes fewer questions, he’s stamped out a couple of traditional forums for getting them in.
Something Bill Clinton and the sinister and secretive George W. Bush did just about every week that the openness president never does anymore is take a question or two during “pool sprays,” those brief hits when the White House pool enters a room – usually the Oval Office – where the president has been meeting with some foreign dignitary or some Congressional dignitary, or some other very dignified person.
The president and the dignified person would make a statement and then the president takes a couple of questions – usually about the news of the day – allowing him to weigh in and keep the country informed about his thinking.
Another avenue to quiz the leader of the free world was the post-statement mini-news conference. Bush and Clinton would come out, make a statement about something, and then take questions for 5, 10, 20 minutes or more, often in the Rose Garden.
The White House notes that Obama likes to do sit down interviews, most recently his softball hitting practice session with Steve Kroft of CBS.
But this approach denies the country a regular view of the president’s thinking and avoids the diversity of questioning he might get at a regular or mini-news conferences. He’s also not forced to think so much on his feet during the one-on-ones, since he takes more time to prepare for the interview, which is often focused on a particular topic.
Obama also talks to a lot of local interviewers, who are often intimidated or just gentler than national correspondents and ask questions about local stuff. These are sessions are, more than anything, tools to get the president on TV in local markets in states he needs to win in 2012.
Maybe the White House should just abandon all pretense and let the press secretary and his deputies interview Obama from now on. I mean, that’s about what happened when they nominated Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Remember this polished piece of puffery?