On Thursday, for the very first time in 308 days, president Obama will face the White home press corps in a full-blown news conference, acquisition the ideal shots that reporters have to offer top top the object of your choosing.

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Obama"s prolonged absence indigenous reporters" crosshairs has actually exceeded president George W. Bush"s longest void of 204 days.

As a candidate two years ago, Obama, then a senator, mused aloud around holding a news conference every month.


As president, Obama has held just four prime-time news conferences in the an initial 485 days of his term, but that is same to the full number the his last three predecessors – combined – had actually held through the same allude in their an initial terms. The Bushes had actually each organized one; bill Clinton, two.


Obama, however, has actually stood for fewer news conferences in which reporters were totally free to questioning him concerns on the topic of their choosing.

The dwindling frequency that these eastern Room extravaganzas trunk in component from the fragmentation of the prime-time TV viewing audience, said analysts of the presidency and also the news media. That is currently split in between broadcast and cable, video and on-demand options, and has hundreds an ext channels to select from than the 3 networks that solemnly aired president Kennedy’s to win quips, or Dan Rather’s confrontations through President Nixon.


As evidence of just how Americans deserve to tune out the leader the the free world, consider that Obama’s very first prime-time news conference drew an estimated audience of 49 million – and also that his last, part 308 work ago, drew an estimated 20 million.

It is equally clear, though, that the unusually lengthy gap due to the fact that Obama’s critical prime-time news conference – held earlier on July 22, 2009 – owes to Obama’s preferences and also style in the kingdom of rhetoric and communications.


Historian Martha Joynt Kumar that Towson State University, that compiles data on presidential media appearances, stated the numbers reveal the Obama tends to utilize styles where he can expound at higher length. She breaks under presidential exchanges with the news media into 4 categories: primetime news conferences; news conferences hosted alone or together alongside a foreign head of state; short Q-and-A sessions, which generally transpire in the Oval Office, the room Room, or comparable settings; and one-on-one interviews.


Adding up those four categories, Kumar finds this president, through might 20, has confronted reporters’ concerns on 280 occasions in the an initial 485 job of his term. That compares v 275 together instances because that George W. Bush, 454 for President Clinton, and 198 because that George H.W. Bush.

While that total figure reflects virtually exact parity between Obama and his immediate predecessor, a more detailed malfunction reveals a stark difference in the means the two men approached your interactions with reporters. Wherein George W. Bush held 186 short Q&A"s – the daily bread and butter because that the White house press corps, an especially wire business reporters – and also gave just 56 an individual interviews, Obama has done virtually exactly the opposite. He has actually held just 56 Q-and-As, and granted 188 an individual interviews.

“He prefers explaining a details issue, and also so what he likes to do is carry out interviews,” said Kumar, author of "Managing the President’s Message." “And those kinds of events which space pooled in the Oval Office or Roosevelt Room, room room, in ~ the top or bottom that the meeting, and also the wires gain a couple of inquiries -- he wants to get in detail and that"s not a good setting for it.”


Kumar provided that president Eisenhower was the first chief executive, management to location press conferences ~ above the document and additionally the first to televise them.

“And in ~ the begin of among them, he talked around how he"s going to rise the weekly cross and you journey in the nails," she said. "And ns think that most presidents have regarded press conferences in a similar way.”

Dana Perino, who served as press secretary to George W. Bush during his final sixteen months in the White House, said Fox News that Obama’s lack of primetime occasions is a “mystery” to her.


“Obviously, president Obama does well in communicating, and if he had an chance to answer several questions, it would display the breadth and scope of all the he has to cover in a provided day,” she said. “In part ways, you need to wonder what room they afraid of.”


The answer to that question may be no various for any type of occupant the the Oval Office, regardless of his political persuasion or party affiliation.

During Obama’s last primetime news conference, practically a year ago, the castigated the Cambridge Police for exhilaration “stupidly” when they arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis gateways – a remark that served to more inflame the heated racial debate surrounding the arrest.

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Perino, for she part, winced at cite of the minute in April 2004 once John Dickerson, then a reporter for TIME magazine, stymied President shrub with the disarmingly simple question: “What would your greatest mistake be…and what lessons have actually you learned native it?” seemingly flummoxed, bush hesitated before replying: “I great you would certainly have offered me this written concern ahead of time, so ns could plan for it.”

For the record, the White home counts the atom summit in April as Obama’s last news conference. On the occasion, eight reporters inquiry questions, and also Obama"s an extensive opening declare accounted because that 30 percent of the about 5,000 native exchanged.


President/Event George HW Bush Bill Clinton George W. Bush Barack Obama
News Conferences 1 2 1 4
Joint and Solo News Conferences 47 (12, 35) 57 (39, 18) 30 (25, 5)  32 (19, 13)
Q&As 78 332 186 56
Interviews 71 63 58 188
TOTAL 198 454 275 280

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