President Barack Obama may knock the so-called “news cycle,” but he has also manipulated it and ridden on its bandwagon more than any other president.
During their first four months in office, Bill Clinton gave 11 interviews and George W. Bush gave 18. Meanwhile, Obama chalked up a whopping 43, according to a report in the New York Times. In fact, Obama’s “exclusive” interviews have come so fast and furiously that he once dished out “exclusive” interviews to Jim Lehrer of PBS, Katie Couric of NBC in just four days.
Overall, in comparable points in their terms, Obama has divvied out three times as many interviews as George W. Bush and held four times as many prime-time news conferences as Bill Clinton.
This is the same Obama that lashed out at MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, who pressed Obama repeatedly why it was that he wouldn’t delineate “consequences” for the violence perpetrated on Iranian protesters.
Obama said it was too early to see how things were going to “play out.” After Todd persisted, Obama shot back, “I know everybody here is on a 24 hour news cycle. I’m not.”
Back in April, Obama went so far as to partially blame the 24-hour news cycle for the ills of the country.
"For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. There's been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems," Obama charged.
"There is also an impatience that characterizes this town - an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four hour news cycle, and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers," he added.
"When a crisis hits, there's all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on, instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way," Obama concluded.
And this morning, White House Press Sec. Robert Gibbs said it was "media obsession" that prolonged the story of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest, not the fact that Obama commented on the matter when he said the police acted "stupidly."
But the fundamental flaws that Obama abhors don't seem to stop him. He dished out - during that same four day stretch that produced the Lehrer and Couric exclusives - two interviews to The Washington Post on a single day, a conference call with bloggers, two news conferences, and an up-close-and-personal with Terry Moran of ABC’s Nightline.
In addition to the irony of his hate-love relationship with the media, pundits wonder if Obama isn’t diluting both himself and his message with the over-feeding at the media trough.
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