Heck, I wouldn’t blame him for wanting to keep Captain Gaffetastic out of the spotlight as much as possible, but at some point the Veep has to make himself available to the public and the press for questions. Otherwise, it doesn’t make the veep’s office look very, um, “transparent” – as Ed Morrissey explains:
Not only has the White House put a complete muzzle on Biden — an understandable impulse for anyone who’s responsible for what comes out of his mouth — they’ve now closed their meetings with the man they put in charge of Porkulus transparency. A month ago, the White House held a workshop on transparency, which they also closed to the press. Apparently, the workshop succeeded!
Transparency and accountability — now off limits to the press. That’s either the hallmark of this administration, an admission that Obama botched his VP pick, or a little of both.
The remark about Obama possibility admitting indirectly that he botched his veep pick comes from a book about the 2008 campaign season called Game Change, which was released Monday but has sold out almost everywhere. I ordered mine online yesterday and it was on backorder at the Borders website, as it was at Amazon and BAMM and Barnes and Nobel. When I called BAMM yesterday to ask if they had it in stock, the guy on the phone told me that apparently the publisher underestimated how popular the book would be, to which I responded that it was foolish that the publisher would do that as books containing juicy political gossip usually are hot sellers.
Anyway, as to Biden’s lack of availability to the press in spite of the fact that this is supposed to be the most transparent administration evah, it kinda reminds me of when President Obama was set to receive an award from the National Newspaper Publishers Assn., which named him “newsmaker of the year” for 2008. The event, held in the State Dining Room last March, was … closed to the press.
In fairness, the last couple of weeks Biden has been dealing with the loss of his beloved 92-year-old mother Jean Biden – but that’s two weeks. Why hasn’t he been regularly available for the press outside of that? Is the WH trying to keep itself from continually being embarassed by the veep – the guy who I don’t need to remind anyone was picked because of the experience he was supposed to bring to the Obama ticket? His April 2008 quote on running mate possibilities was was, ““I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I’m not as expert on.” Apparently he wanted someone he could easily keep quiet, too.
When it was noted last week that Obama had not had a news conference at the White House since last summer, spokesman Robert Gibbs turned it back on reporters.
“I think the last time … we talked about the president’s media schedule, and here you all, to a person, reminded me of our dramatic overexposure,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs was referring to last year when the cable pundits were chattering about how everywhere you turned, there was Obama.
Five Sunday morning political show interviews, breaking down NASCAR and college basketball on ESPN, dropping by David Letterman’s show and appearing in a promo for a new television show featuring comedian George Lopez, it seemed as though the president was on every channel talking about everything under the sun.
The White House was clear about its media strategy, wanting to go beyond the typical news junkie and reach a broad spectrum of Americans. But that didn’t stop the pundits from claiming it was an Obama overload.
The White House reporters who cover him on a daily basis have a different view, said Caren Bohan, a White House correspondent for Reuters and a board member of the White House Correspondents Association.
“I don’t think there is a feeling in the briefing room among reporters who regularly cover the president that he’s overexposed in terms of giving too many press conferences,” said Bohan, who has covered the White House since 2003.
Gibbs was again questioned about the news conference drought this week.
The White House spokesman said, no, the president was not avoiding reporters and reiterated the media’s concern about overexposure.
When he asked for a show of hands from those who wanted a news conference, Gibbs got unanimous agreement from the press corps: Bring on the president.
Since when has our celebrity President given a rip about “overexposure”? Not only that, but carefully scripted one on ones with popular media journalists, engaging in friendly sports “punditry,” and laugh-a-thons with backslapping comedic celebrity personalities does not provide the same level of information that can be found out via press conferences. IMO, if President Obama is so worried about overexposure he should stop appearing on late night talk shows and comedic programs, ditch the one on ones and hold more press conferences. Even though most of the time he knows who is going to call on him at those conferences, at least there’s a little more spontaneity – and seriousness – to what’s being asked.
Then again, maybe that’s the problem.