For most of his tenure, Barack Obama has seemed content to ignore the White House press corps—so much so that now the president has made news simply by taking questions. Politico reports:
President Barack Obama had just done the unthinkable.
He took questions last week from the White House press corps — not just once, but twice. He didn’t call only on the reporters who were selected ahead of time by his senior aides. He even stuck around longer than he wanted at a briefing Friday to appease the room of shouting correspondents.”
“Hold on, guys. Come on. You’re not that pent up,” Obama joked. “I’ve been giving you questions lately.”
This never used to happen in the Obama White House, a place so obsessed with message control that the president could go months without talking with the press corps. However, in the past seven weeks, Obama has taken questions an average of once a week.”
Perhaps the White House is beginning, as the president’s poll numbers sink to new lows, to realize that it is trouble and that the usual long-winded, rambling, substance-less speeches no longer do the trick. The president’s new press secretary, Josh Earnest, is clearly trying to project a greater openness on the part of the administration. Yet the calculation remains. Politico notes that “Simply taking questions, White House staffers say, is not a smart communications strategy. But the occasional give-and-take, when it’s topical and targeted, very much serves their interests, aides said.”
Remember when this was supposed to be the “most transparent administration in history”?