US president Barack Obama, it was reported at the beginning of the year, had given the fewest press conferences in his first four-year term than any of his several immediate predecessors. Wow, that sounds concerning. After all, this is the President of the United States. The land of the free and the brave, the land where freedom of the press is a constitutional guarantee!
So in four years, how many are we talking about? Maybe one every quarter times four? Sixteen – that sounds about right. Try again. Obama gave SEVENTY-NINE press conferences in four years (that’s about 20/year), and yes, he gave fewer than George W. Bush who gave 89, Bill Clinton stood formally before the press 133 times, George H.W. Bush who gave all of 143 press conferences, but he was ahead of Ronald Reagan who trailed the pack with a measly 27 (that would still be nearly seven per year). Obama was, however, reported as giving 408, that’s right, 408 sit-down interviews with journalists, more than Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined (for the comparable period) Apparently, he prefers that form of communicating with the press.
He also gives off-the-cuff interviews at photo ops and public appearances, like all the Presidents do (I think that means they are impromptu, as in not pre-arranged) albeit ONLY 94, fewer than his predecessors, George W. Bush (307) and Bill Clinton (493).
That’s called taking media seriously. That’s taking the public seriously.