White House press corps must pick its battles more carefully
February 28, 2013
Filed under Opinion
On Sunday, February 17th, President Obama and professional golfer Tiger Woods played a casual game of golf in Florida as a mini vacation for Presidents Day weekend. What should have been a relaxing day in the sun for the President turned out to only aggravate the rising tide of frustration between the White House Press Corps and the Obama Administration.
During his game of golf, the White House press corps was denied access, which was just enough of a flame to light the fuse of the reporters. In the past, the reporters have expressed their frustration towards the Obama administration for the lack of access provided to the President.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, long-time presidential reporter Ann Compton said “the way the White House press corps was treated by the Obama administration was a ‘disgrace’”. Because the White House press corps was denied access to the game, the reporters have been expressing anger towards the Obama administration. They hold the belief that they should be allowed more access to the president in case something exciting were to happen.
The lack of access claim on the part of the press corps is questionable. An article on Vanity Fair stated that Obama has given reporters 674 interviews in his first term, compared to President George W. Bush who only gave 217. However, Obama did only allow 107 question-and-answer opportunities whereas Bush allowed 355. Looking at these figures, it seems that Obama’s “lack of access” problem is not so dire.
However, the press still complains that the Obama administration keeps President Obama heavily protected. But what are they really protecting? His private outings?
Whether or not the Obama administration gives poor access to the White House press corps is irrelevant; the real problem lies with what the press wants to access. It seems that the only access that the White House press corps is complaining about is the access to Obama’s private functions. Is that really worth the complaints? Over the Presidents Day weekend, Obama wanted a relaxing day alone to play a game of golf. He was not planning an extensive private meeting or anything of that sort.
As the president, he deserves some private time without the press crawling up his back and analyzing his every move. The Obama administration didn’t grant the press access to his private golf outing: so what? It was private for a reason.
However, the press does have a point. Following the president is an important job, and if something were to happen, the reporters on the scene would be the first to know and only they would be able to give the information to the public. If they were not on the scene when the event occurred, the coverage would be poor and the story could be missing. The press is only trying to do its job and cover the news that they are supposed to cover. Through a reporter’s eyes, it is easy to see why this might be frustrating.
Ultimately, the press may have a point, but the Obama administration does too. As a public, do we really need to know every detail about the president’s leisure time? Probably not. As the president, he is constantly being monitored closely, and knowing this can be stressful and exhausting. If the man wants one day off to relax and enjoy himself, then he should be allowed to without the press turning it into an issue.
Instead of complaining for days on end, the reporters should accept it and start doing their job elsewhere. Although the press does deserve its access, it is not always their place to dictate how the president should handle his exposure time, and therefore they should learn to move on.