On the eve of President Barack Obama’s first official press conference since 1972, CBS correspondent and numbers cruncher Mark Knoller has just released a follow-up to his groundbreaking report on Obama’s golf addiction. This time, Knoller and his abacus have come to some Interesting Conclusions about presidential encounters with the press. The numbers not only show but prove — PROVE, ladies and gents — that Obama prefers to “get intimate” with reporters, even more than Bill Clinton did.
Since taking office, Knoller says, “Mr. Obama” has given six “formal, full-scale White House news conferences”; these last about 50 minutes and involve Robert Gibbs serving dinner (usually pot roast) to the White House press corps while Obama answers their questions. Obama has also done more than 40 “press availabilities,” more casual affairs where he comes to the podium wearing his smoking jacket and slippers and tosses out a few Capri Suns and Twizzlers* to the reporters in the front row.
But it’s those up-close-and-personals that make the CBS person very excited:
Besides press conferences, Mr. Obama has also sat for 190 interviews with members of the press, far more than any of his recent predecessors during their first 16 months in office.
The numbers reveal that Mr. Obama finds news conferences less appealing a format for conveying his views than one-on-one interviews.
In private situations, Obama can do the playful, romantic things that win reporters’ hearts forever, like show off his sexy-flexy dumbbell routines or shoot some hoops. But in press conferences, Obama has to put on a fancy suit and look presidential, which is no fun.
Hey Obama-pal, if it was fun they wouldn’t call it work. But they probably didn’t tell you that when you were growing up in Kenya, where people are too poor to afford clever sayings. [CBS News]
* Obama brings special “fantasy cupcakes” for the Washington Post‘s Helen Thomas, who hates all licorice products.