President Obama did something remarkable on Friday. He held his last press conference of the year, and the only people in the entire press corps who were called on to ask questions were women. Yes, this was on purpose; it had to be.
TV reporters were advised in advance that @PressSec wanted other reporters not regularly called on to get to question the Pres.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 19, 2014
And yes, it was totally awesome.
Pretty much everyone could agree on that.
see how newsy press conferences can be when women ask the questions?— gwen ifill (@gwenifill) December 19, 2014
During many POTUS press confs female reporters like @AnnCompton, Helen Thomas, & myself would note how many women called. Today all women!— Suzanne Malveaux (@SuzanneMalveaux) December 19, 2014
With 8th & last question, it's fact: Obama called only on women at press conf. Women long chafed at dominance of front-row male TV reporters— Jackie Calmes (@calmesnyt) December 19, 2014
The dude network guys now look especially mad. Love this newser— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) December 19, 2014
The first woman ever to cover a president was the late Helen Thomas. Before her death last year, she had been a fixture in the first row of the briefing room and at presidential news conferences for decades beginning with John F. Kennedy's presidency.
Until 1962, women weren't even allowed to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Thomas helped change that, but the corps has long been dominated by men.
And, for the record, here are the eight reporters -- all of them print reporters, it should be noted -- who got called on.
- Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
- Cheryl Bolen, Bloomberg
- Julie Pace, Associated Press
- Lesley Clark, McClatchy
- Roberta Rampton, Reuters
- Colleen M. Nelson, Wall Street Journal
- Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
- April Ryan, American Urban Radio
The eighth was a bonus. As is custom, when reporters thought Obama was heading for the exits, they shouted one last question at him. A male reporter asked Obama about his New Year's resolutions.
Obama ignored it and called on Ryan instead.
UPDATE: Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the thinking behind calling on all women: