So for all the groaning about President Trump beating up on reporters, turns out he is taking way more questions than President Obama, according to White House reporters interviewed by Politico.
And it’s true. Reporters have access to Trump almost every day. Obama was like some imperial satrap who would emerge from the Forbidden City every now and then to entertain a few queries from his subjects.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not so bad on Trump singling out for opprobrium individual reporters and news organizations. After all, Obama already normalized that. Trump has right to fight back against biased reporting. But I think it’s outrageous that he threatens broadcast licenses. It’s an attack on free speech by the government. That said, he’s giving reporters plenty of opportunities to do their jobs.
Jonathan Karl, the ABC White House reporter, had a surprising comment after Monday’s impromptu press conference by President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “I have probably had more opportunities to ask questions of President Trump over the past two weeks than I had of President Obama during the last two years of his presidency.”
The latest example was Monday, when Trump suddenly decided to have a full press conference in the Rose Garden and dragged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell out there with him.
Of course, some reporters complain even about that.
It was the latest example of Trump shunning the traditional, formal press conference normally associated with the presidency in favor of more freewheeling, impromptu exchanges. Though reporters say they appreciate the opportunity to ask questions, the scene created by press conferences like today’s may provide the exact type of image that could help the president in his ongoing battle against the press.
“It maximizes his advantage. Less time to prepare, the press is a little caught off guard,” said one White House reporter. It’s not that reporters have a hard time coming up with questions on the fly, he said, but the scenes of reporters jostling with each other for space and shouting questions over each other—like they were today—creates “a visual that works for him.”
On the other hand, the reporter agreed with Karl that Trump takes questions from reporters more often than Obama.
In terms of access to the president, this is the best situation I’ve seen since the last days of the Clinton administration, when a desperately needy Bill Clinton, dreading the approaching end of his presidency, would take questions until reporters had actually run out of them.