GIBBS PUSHES BACK…. After the president’s prime-time press conference this week, two of the more popular topics of conversation in major media outlets were Obama reading an opening statement — I still have no idea why this is a “story” — and the president not calling on reporters from major daily newspapers.
Chatting yesterday with the Washington Post‘s Lois Romano, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded to the media’s inordinate interest in these topics. (via Jamison Foser)
MS. ROMANO: The teleprompter changed last night.
MR. GIBBS: Mm-hmm.
MS. ROMANO: What was that about that? It’s a big jumbotron now.
MR. GIBBS: You know can I tell you this?
MS. ROMANO: Yes.
MR. GIBBS: I am absolutely amazed that anybody in America cares about who the President picks at a news conference or the mechanism by which he reads his prepared remarks. You know, I guess America is a wonderful country.
MS. ROMANO: You’re saying this is all Washington Beltway stuff?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t even know if it’s that. I don’t think I should implicate the many people that live in Washington.
MR. GIBBS: No, I you know, I don’t think the President let me just say this: My historical research has demonstrated that the President is not the first to use prepared remarks nor the first to use a teleprompter.
I’ve been watching presidential press conferences for about as long as I can remember, and seeing presidents begin with an opening statement is hardly unusual. The difference this week, I suppose, is that Obama read from a screen, while his modern predecessors read from pieces of paper. This, for odd reasons I’ll never understand, has caused quite a stir among most of the media establishment.
Given this, Gibbs’ response to Romano sounds about right.