A whopping 78 percent of White House reporters who participated in a Politico survey say President Obama doesn’t like them, and about the same percent think Michelle Obama doesn’t like them either.
The results suggest the press corps perception of itself is vastly different than that held by many Americans – particularly conservatives – who perceive a cozy, mutually nurturing relationship between press and president. The poll was conducted mainly on background, with reporters not having to attach their names to the answers for publication.
Of 65 reporters who answered the question, 51 said Obama “dislikes the press.” Fifty of 63 said the same about Michelle. I honestly forget what I said. I think I said neither of them likes the press.
The poll suggests the press perceives itself at a distance. While 34 respondents said Obama is about as open to the press as he was in his first term, 25 said he is less so and only eight said he is more open. Eighty percent said they have never interviewed Obama and 63 percent have never even gotten in a question at a press conference.
I have never been called on to ask him a question, nor interviewed him.
Twenty two reporters, or about half who answered the question, said the current press secretary Josh Earnest is the best they ever worked with. But this in part reflects that for some, he is the only press secretary they’ve worked with, or the only one in addition to Jay Carney, who was widely detested and was the favorite of only two. I said Mike McCurry.
Fifty eight percent say that Obama has received the same toughness of coverage as other presidents, while 31 percent say it’s been more lenient and 11 percent say harsher. I, of course, believe it’s been more lenient.
Eighty one percent said Obama’s various jokey YouTube videos, GIFs, and slow-jamming late night appearances are not beneath the dignity of the presidency. Only 19 percent, including yours truly, said they were.
Asked who will be president “given what you know how,” 63 percent said Hillary Clinton and 21 percent said Jeb Bush. I said Jeb, but only because I had to make a choice, not because I necessarily think he will be the nominee or the president.
Eighteen reporters said the New York Times does the best job covering the White House. Eleven said the Associated Press and six said Politico. I said Fox.
The above questions were asked anonymously. Reporters were also asked to go on the record to answer a few other questions and their responses were all published.
Below are the responses I gave:
Q. I wish White House reporters would do a better job of . . .
KEITH: Breaking stories the White House hasn’t itself leaked and investigating scandals that involve this administration.
Q. The most overrated part of covering the White House is . . .
KEITH: The lobster tails. After a while, you get tired of them.
Q. The question the White House press secretary is most likely to dodge is . . .
KEITH: Events not yet officially on the schedule.
Q. If I could cover any presidency in history, it would be . . .
KEITH: Honestly, Barack Obama. This is fascinating, and it is an extremely consequential presidency. But if you want an historical figure, Teddy Roosevelt.