Obama controlled the tone of the East Room proceedings, speaking with utmost seriousness, gesturing with his hands and displaying a command of the facts. His lengthy, multi-part answers– allowing for just 13 questions– went well beyond what the journalists asked and defended his record while taking not-so-veiled slaps at the Republicans as “folks who presided over a doubling of national debt.”
The reporters’ questions were direct, succinct and restrained, with none of the showmanship that has sometimes marked past news conferences. The journalists stopped short of confrontation, as though they were sobered by the gravity of the financial crisis.
It was a bookend moment.
President Obama on Monday evening became the 10th American president to call on Helen Thomas at a White House news conference. And he was the first to call on Sam Stein, a reporter for The Huffington Post, whose Internet publication sprung to life during Mr. Obama’s candidacy…
The White House decided in advance which reporters would be selected. And on Monday night, correspondents for The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, Time and Newsweek were not on the list.
Some at the traditional news orgs are likely to see this decision as proof that the White House is determined to make use of an evolving Web-based apparatus of lefty news orgs that’s supposedly more committed to advancing a partisan agenda than to doing balanced journalism. Whatever the White House’s motives, the point is that some traditional journalists are likely to see the decision through the prism of their own presumed journalistic superiority.