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Friday, February 13, 2009

Obama Picks Favorites in Media

Obama's Press List
Membership shall have its privileges.
About half-way through President Obama's press conference Monday night, he had an unscripted question of his own. "All, Chuck Todd," the President said, referring to NBC's White House correspondent. "Where's Chuck?" He had the same strange question about Fox News's Major Garrett: "Where's Major?"

The problem wasn't the lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.

Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night's event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn't out of fear of being left off the list the next time.


Seating Chart
Some reporters were unhappy with their treatment at President Obama's news conference Monday. Many correspondents from major outlets — who normally have front row seats — did not. A reporter from the liberal Huffington Post and liberal radio host Ed Schultz were on the front row. Two reporters from African-American media were also seated up front, but neither was called on.
Hazel Edney of the National Newspaper Publishers Association says, "We were nothing more than window dressing."
Tiffany Cross of Black Entertainment Television said "I really don't know why I'm up here."
Former correspondent Helen Thomas (an admitted biased liberal) — who lost her front row perch when she became a columnist — was back in first class and was one of only 13 reporters allowed to ask a question.


My Thoughts
As if the media was easy enough on him. The left-leaning liberal mainstream media has been showering praise and adoration for two years. He received better coverage than anyone else in American history. There were very few hard questions for him. He has been given superstar (borderline Messianic) treatment by most of the press. Why does he feel the need to control the type of questions he gets? Why must he put his most adoring fans and worshippers in the front? This is sounds eerily like how the media is handled in China or N. Korea.

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