Obama and the press: an inauspicious start

November 9, 2012

President Obama in the East Room of the White House on Friday. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The day-to-day reality is a bit more frosty than that. We described the situation two years ago as one of mutual loathing between the Obama administration’s media team and some of those in the press corps.

And early post-election signs are that things are unlikely to improve in the second term.

Case in point is some media grousing that President Obama decided not to give a press conference after the election, preferring instead to give a speech — or “statement” as he called it — in the East Room of the White House on Friday that was little more than a re-hash of his stump speeches.

Instead, the White House says Obama will hold his presser on Wednesday, more than a week after the election.

By way of comparison, Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton held news conferences within a couple of days of being reelected. (Reagan then took a four-day vacation.)

Presidents Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson did not hold any post-election news conferences. President Dwight Eisenhower had a news conference on Nov. 14, the week after the election.

Nixon, in a June 2, 1971, memo to chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, who later did time in Lompoc federal prison, spelled out his “theory that treating them [reporters] with considerably more contempt is in the long run a more productive policy.”

That policy seemed to work out pretty well.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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