New questions about Obama's relationship with the media
Does press corps have a legitimate beef?
- Duration 12:21
- Date Feb 20, 2013
Does press corps have a legitimate beef?
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But the president is at the White House today giving interviews to eight local news stations from various parts of the country.
As he tries to warn about the impact of the automatic spending cuts he proposed and and signed into law.
Yet the frustrated white house press -- nearly rebelled this past holiday weekend complaining that their own access to the president has been overly limited and controlled.
Today Politico goes so far as to call the president the -- -- puppet master.
Joining me now to discuss it film of -- policy -- for president George W.
Bush and the editorial page editor of the New York Post.
Juan Williams Fox News political analysts and Ed Henry fox news's chief White House correspondent -- so great to have you in particular all of you guys -- Ed.
You have a special role in this because you head up the white house press corps association press association.
And you on behalf of the members of that group not just -- Henry it's the white house press corps.
Are the ones who -- this complain about President Obama your access to him over the weekend yet you took -- buys you so upset why -- hopes that they don't get to see the president -- with Tiger Woods.
Let me give you cancer responded that was -- about -- -- It was not about Tiger Woods -- the bottom line is level we were talking about is that there's been.
A degradation of access to the president of the United States that is build big building for many years many presidencies.
Democrats and Republicans by the way no offense to bill would -- Who was in the Bush Administration obviously putting it in all seriousness Ann Compton.
Of ABC news who.
It was quoted their political story you mentioned has covered I believe now seven presidents of both parties and -- over the years.
I social media has expanded.
As the no big media's influence has waned somewhat.
All kinds of factors.
You know more and more White -- -- go around the white house press corps that's fine it's a free country they can do that but we've been getting less and less access.
To the president whether it's a photograph with Tiger Woods or whether it's getting questions to the president this coming Friday which -- ask a corny about yesterday.
The president meets with the prime minister of Japan.
In the Bush Administration we typically used to do you get one or two questions to the president at the end of his meeting with the prime minister of Japan for example.
These days this president does not take question to those settings and so we're pressing for more access to him not just about.
Golf or something silly like that but about the big issues of the day whether it's Syria Iran the sequester the big budget cuts are about to hit we want access to the president that's what this is about.
It is not to said Henry as -- -- and counted BBC news is the way the president's availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace.
Mike McCurry who is -- Press Secretary under.
President Clinton says the White House gets away with stuff I never would have dreamed of doing the balance of power used to be much more in favor of the press not the president's.
And bill you were in the bush administration and I'll just or something -- you -- because Michael Goodwin of the New York Post comes out today and says.
The media has only itself but to blame he says they sold out.
For unrequited love they they wanted they gave Obama the milk without making him by the -- it's too late to demand -- -- Yeah I'm with Michael on that we have similar editorial look I think the way you get the president's attention is to cover him.
And this I thought this political.
Piece was very silly.
The idea that oh Obama so Smart he's just manipulating us the master puppeteer these people look politicos the same.
Publication a serious publication that ran like six stories on Marco Rubio taking a glass of water.
You know with me with very little coverage of the substance of the president's remarks.
So look I think you wanna get a press secretary's attention you want to get access start holding the president's feet to the fire instead of issuing statements.
And yet one that that the president's defenders point out that.
He may not necessarily giving Ed any other white house press remembers the love they want.
Or at least the tie a month they once.
I told Eddie should make you know right doe eyes at at the president and that the -- enough that they don't work.
But anyway bigfoot they they put -- that he does make himself much more accessible to the people directly town halls and other.
-- -- Welfare you know -- the social media I mean you mean he had to Google hanging out this week.
So he's able to interact with the American people he's -- able to -- to take questions from the so you've got Twitter you know you've got FaceBook the White House even does -- west wing show once a week.
This is all under their control so it's a little bit like propaganda it's a whole lot different than having Ed Henry.
Ask you a tough question it's a whole lot different than having the New York Times watched imposed.
Wall Street Journal.
I asked questions and those institutions -- venerable journalistic institutions have not had time with the president now.
I believe and in a year and a happens is the last time he did an interview with a major newspaper.
But instead he does things like steep drop on six and Cathy CC -- -- of -- Hill Harper.
Yet but I don't I don't let me just say I think White House news management was not invented by the President Obama team.
And David -- I mean I think back I was covering the White House under Reagan and I mean.
I remember -- -- he was on the cover of time magazine for his tremendously strong management how to get Ronald Reagan.
To the American people and avoid the terrible press for every White House tries to do it I think this White House -- has more instruments in terms of the social media.
Well it's interesting because you mentioned like these.
These -- and in some some appraised -- that the questioners who show up at some of these forms to talk to the president as offering some hardball questions.
But as it turns out they're not all really that hard ball watch.
Want to read -- -- -- late at night.
That you can't just -- the last coroner in ten years -- -- finish all of my medical school residency training and everything can I be your doctor would that be cool.
-- -- -- -- Have your daughters expressed any interest in pursuing a career in science -- engineering my partner and I are always talking about how fortunate she must have grown up in Hawaii so I wanted to know what.
How that experience it's shape you as a person.
We are setting our second child we have a boy -- -- down but I tennis parent had a question for you.
President we are wondering if you prefer the name -- -- more or Alice.
-- It make you -- -- somebody we all needed to be part of the white house press corps.
It reminds me so fondly of the last campaign where there there was radio talk show host of New Mexico I think who asked the president who is favored super hero was that was.
A real high point I think in the campaign and -- -- this look.
Just a few moments -- the White House briefing.
Jay Carney called on a local reporter from Kansas somebody -- here to interview presently a local -- -- sometimes folks that all these local anchors will distaff soft balls so he threw one and two it's that you have a question in this woman asked that very tough question actually.
About the corporate.
Tax break -- for -- for corporate jets that the president talks about eliminating it she said you know it actually doesn't hurt the -- that much it puts.
Thousands -- your hundreds or thousands of people are out of work middle class people who help service these yet and Jakarta didn't have such a great answer for her so it it points out what it's on the the bill -- said I think the bottom line here is.
The key is to actually asked tough question to the president of the Press Secretary hold their feet to the fire whether they're Democrats or Republicans it's something I did the Bush Administration something I try to do now.
You have to have a fair -- little human you're -- top on both sides and that any any fair objective of -- observer would say that have you -- but I want to ask you bill.
I won't put this one -- because he's too polite kid to take -- shot -- his fellow press press -- members but.
Good to be getting back to your editorial it in and Michael Goodwin.
That the press that that has been questioning this president is not always been the most reliable and they have not always been the most objective.
And even though sometimes some good reporters like our own Ed Henry like Jake Tapper formerly of ABC.
Asking tough questions.
You get a lot of other incidents remember this one -- -- remember -- -- Chicago Tribune reporter watch us.
Thank you Mr.
And congratulations by the -- When crystal clear in my house run for state senate -- -- Iowa Christian and I go back court has never -- you leave.
The -- -- in that one time yeah.
-- It just it never gets more comfortable the east took that from me I was goodness -- refer -- that look.
The problem is not that he gets soft questions from.
Twitter feeds or from YouTube video it said he often gets soft questions from the white house press corps.
You know they've largely given them a free pass and this is what I mean it doesn't mean that they're not critical on occasion.
But for example this immigration debate there's been almost no discussion of Barack Obama's role in the last immigration bill which was to help bring it down.
In the debt ceiling negotiations.
Most the questions that I saw when they were asked to President Obama and public or.
About the Republicans nothing about what are you gonna bring to the table.
Again we we have this this obsession all these people go nuts Marco Rubio was third -- takes a glass of water.
And nothing about the substance in the state of the union my view it's all presidents want to control the press the president that I work for was no different.
President Obama has been a lot more successful because I think there -- a lot more people that generally agree with his outlook and so they don't question him as.
Hard as they ought to.
And to what extent why do you think that that's a function of -- it in the gubernatorial he suggests that.
Critical coverage is met with punishment in the form of complaints and being frozen out to some of these reporters you know they don't wanna get frozen out any more than they -- work.
This is nothing -- -- -- -- we've been talking about you know getting pushed out of the loop when you do a negative story.
With presidents going way back let me assure you that that's nothing new.
I mean I think the key point here to understand is that the people who are in the white house press -- I don't think that they are incompetent or there and president Obama's pocket I think they're trying to do their job.
But I think the tenor of the times it's changed I think there's more and Mitch journalism going on more magazines news channel's radio shows -- Federer.
That are aimed at one audience or another and I think the White House.
Communications in their press office feels like you know there are a lot of people out there with gotcha questions they want to embarrass the president I think President Bush went through this you can you name the ambassador -- the leader of some strange country Eastern Europe.
That they just tried it -- I think a lot of reporters can't make their name and it makes the white house press the much more.
Cautious and -- let me just finally say the President Obama has granted over 600 interviews in his first term.
President Bush could only 200 plus so it's not that there's lack.
Of interaction between the president and the public it's that -- lack of interaction and I think respect.
For the professionals like Ed Henry like the New York Times Washington Post Wall Street Journal that's the problem you know -- I say one last point look at that political story that political story is a long wine.
That the president is is this master puppeteer and where helpless in the onslaught of this new media -- come on guys.
Do your jobs.
Hold his feet to the fire play the same standard and you would to other presidents they all try the same things for all agreeing that he's getting away with that more there -- reason.
I want to ask you quickly rarely go ahead is it true that if you cover the president negatively or if -- -- really tough question.
Yet president made you don't get called -- in the next press conference -- -- and is it also true that that's that's been done under lots of presents.
It's been done -- a lot of president I will tell you they had to build the -- President Bush never liked me when I covered him I try to be tough but fair he didn't always think that was fair.
And it back and never sat down never got a one on one interview with President Bush for that very reason.
So look you've got -- I think try to be tough but fair on both sides maybe I'll take your advice mega contract those -- wise I don't think -- You try it now but I -- yeah.
-- a practice round.
If that had the -- -- in the don't realize that it just doesn't work that's my prerogative.
Now to bring you guys thank you very much out -- -- -- --