Expect Off Topic Questions When You’re Inaccessible

More thoughts on today’s White House presser: While gun control is an important issue, and one that clearly needs addressing after the depraved Newtown massacre, criticism of reporters’ fiscal cliff questions was a touch harsh.

For one, the President has just proposed to cut Social Security, and deserves to held to account. Budget woes might be trumped up by the right, but — like it or not — cuts are happening and our leaders must be forced to justify them.

Secondly, as a POLITICO reporter (and, full disclosure, friend) Byron Tau pointed out on Twitter:”If the White House wanted reporters to ask about the topic of the day, it should offer the press corp [sic] more routine access to Obama.” (Not that I would describe Newtown as a “topic of the day,” but we can multitask, can we not? Cuts to the social safety net could end up harming just as many, if not more people than gun violence, after all).

But has Obama really been that hermetic with regard to media access? As of May, he had granted one more press conference than Dubya and far more solo Q&A’s. But Clinton, at the same juncture, had given 116 press conferences compared to Obama’s 68 pressers and Dubya’s 67. Does a man who had once promised to preside over the “most transparent administration in history,” really want to measure up to the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush in this respect?

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.