President Obama appeared at today’s White House press briefing and took questions from the media, beginning with Fox News’ Major Garrett.
Many members of the media have complained in recent weeks that the administration is attempting to bypass press conferences, in favor of releasing information via one-on-one interviews and social media channels.
This the President’s first press conference since July. As Fox News’ Garrett notes, Obama has held 27 total press conferences in his first year in office, compared to 19 for George W. Bush and 45 for Bill Clinton.
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After some speculation last week, it’s now official: Fox News’ Major Garrett will interview President Obama tomorrow morning in Beijing. The interview comes after recent attacks on the network by now outgoing White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, and despite reports that said the administration told Fox News not to expect an interview with Obama until 2010. News broke last week that Dunn will be stepping down from her post at the end of November.
“I am not a person who is known for going rogue,” Dunn said at a media conference last week, claiming Obama was aware of the strategy to go after Fox News. Nonetheless, a source told PRNewser, “it’s a shame when they throw people under the bus,” hinting that the timing of Dunn’s departure was not her choice. Fox News spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffersaid to Bloomberg only, “We wish her well in her new position.”
White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn took to Howie Kurtz’s Reliable Sources show on CNN this morning to elaborate on the new, more aggressive press strategy laid out by TIME magazine this week.
“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” Dunn said.
Dunn confirmed this was the reason Obama didn’t not include Fox in his Sunday media blitz a few weeks ago.
The nine minute interview looked at difference between Fox’s opinion shows, and its news coverage. Kurtz read, and Dunn responded to the statement to that affect, issued by Fox’s SVP of News Michael Clemente on Friday.
The administration is fine with Fox White House Correspondent Major Garrett but not with the network’s use of talking points, opposition research, and misleading chyrons.
Dunn also gave Kurtz homework to do on what Fox is not covering: “Did you see coverage of that (the Senator Ensign scandal) on Fox News? I’m not talking Glenn Beck, Sean, the Factor, I’m talking Fox News.” “I will have to check on that,” Kurtz responded.
UPDATE: Fox News SVP Michael Clemente issued the following response: “An increasing number of viewers are relying on FOX News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents. So, with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts, rather than attack the messenger…which over time, has never worked.”