President Obama has not taken a serious question from the White House press corps in nearly seven weeks, a remarkable string that points to a campaign-style White House operation that is seeking to insulate the candidate from tough cross examination.
The last substantive question Obama took from a White House reporter was during a June 20 press conference following the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Obama allowed only six questions during the event, which was nearly guaranteed to keep him out of political hot water as the focus was on foreign policy.
Since then, Obama has held no press conferences, given no interviews to White House reporters, and taken no questions at the White House events he has held where reporters have been present.
After a July 26 Cabinet meeting, Obama actually laughed off the prospect of taking a serious question about gun laws.
From the White House transcript:
Q Mr. President, can you tell us, if what the Colorado shooter did was entirely legal, how do you do more on this subject without any new laws?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I’m sure we’ll have more opportunity to talk about this.
Q This afternoon is fine. I’m available.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. I’ll ask Jay for your number. (Laughter.)
During his recent trip to Europe and Israel, Mitt Romney’s failure to take many questions from the frustrated reporters traveling with him sparked an uproar in Washington, even though Romney did in fact hold a press availability during the trip.
Obama’s silencing of the White House press corps has drawn no similar protest.
To the contrary, Daily Caller White House reporter Neil Munro was derided by his colleagues when he interrupted Obama’s remarks in the Rose Garden June 15 to try to ask about immigration. Munro said he thought Obama had finished.
It turns out that was one of the last questions any White House reporter has asked the president.
Obama has done some interviews with local TV reporters during the interim. But, though they occasionally yield some news, these sessions tend to be easy home runs for the president. Obama is facing reporters less versed in national issues and politics than the White House press corps. And they are more likely to be intimidated by the trappings of the White House, where they suddenly find themselves sitting down with the president of the United States.
Obama and Michelle also swatted away mainly softballs during a July 12 interview with “CBS The Morning” anchor Charlie Rose.
Obama did get one feeble question from what appeared to be a White House reporter during his June 29 tour of the fire damage in Colorado Springs. Obama was quizzed, “What do you think when you see just this stuff right here?”