WASHINGTON, April 28
Take that, Eric Alterman: ( LINK ), and welcome to the majesty of the East Room of the White House.
The President's 8:30 pm ET press conference tonight is the sixth since he's was re-elected; the fourth prime-time event of his presidency; and the 17th full-blown presser since he became 43. [Courtesy of ABC News' can-do Crawford veteran Karen Travers.]
We expect a 10-to-12-minute statement from him on energy policy and Social Security before he opens the floor to questions and Les Kinsolving.
A decision about whether he'll get full network coverage is -- depending on where one is asking -- TBD or TBA, owing partly to the start of May sweeps.
(At stake, Dan and Nicolle, as if you care: "Sweet Home Alabama," "Primetime Live," "Survivor," "CSI," an all-new "O.C." and "The Simple Life," "Will & Grace," and "The Apprentice.")
Do some catalogue shopping or finalize your weekend plans between now and 8:30 pm ET tonight, because nothing in the papers or on cable TV matters at this point. Not even David Broder's must-read column (which 41, 42, and 43 should have a commiseration conference call about). LINK
It's all about the potential paradigm shifts that are about to occur.
Things you should look for tonight:
1. There will be a heavy dose of frission in the room as the clock strikes 8:29 pm ET -- because even in the currently changed/changing politico-media landscape, primetime is primetime.
2. The President will start slow on his opening statement, and it will be clear to the discerning viewer which topics he is really engaged on, and which are the reading of boilerplate.
3. The President will call on Ann Compton and Mark Knoller, reminding everyone watching that America has the blessing of two of the best radio reporters in the world.
4. The President will also take questions from John Dickerson and Ken Herman (for different reasons, but knowing he gets good-guy points for calling on each).
5. The President SHOULD call on, if he is smart (and he is), Olivier Knox of AFP, a Rain Man of foreign policy who remains underappreciated.
6. The President will make at least one sartorial observation about a male reporter . . . use a new nickname in public for the first time (staff or press -- it's unclear which it will be at this writing) . . . flash a self-satisfied smile that can be described as a smirk (more than once) . . . and try disarming humor if asked why everything seems to be going to H, E, double toothpicks.
7. The President will also make a reference to a book he is reading/has read . . . . make a joke about his iPod or mountain bike . . . make a wistful reference to a reporter who is NOT there (Paging Mssrs. Fournier and Lindlaw!!!).
The President will NOT mention the WHCA dinner coming up Saturday (except maybe at the very end, when he might say "see y'all Saturday"); he WILL make a rare allusion to one or both of his daughters, and he will say something nice about (or be extra cordial to) a CBS News correspondent.
8. Reporters' topics that the President's creative team will have prepared him for will include: