Obama Gives Speeches, Interviews But Few Press Conferences

Obama sat down at the end of last year for a slew of interviews with organizations such as ABC News, the Washington Post, PBS' "Newshour" and NPR. He has been interviewed this year by CNN's Roland Martin and People magazine.

Dana Perino, press secretary for George W. Bush, said the media is not being tough enough on the Obama White House.

"Ask yourself, would the media have sat so idly by if Bush had not given interviews? I think we all know the answer," she said. "Interviews are great ways to communicate, but as Vanilla Ice said, it's not the same."

The White House is making a strategic calculation on when it offers the president for a news conference. The Obama communications team has shown it's willing to have the president face the firing squad of questioners, but it would prefer to hold it during the television networks' prime time line-up.

A prime time slot equals more viewers and the administration wants to get the most bang for its buck.

The networks have strongly pushed back against this becoming a trend because airing an hour of the president means an hour of no commercials, and a loss of revenue.

The White House knows it has to balance its requests for network prime time coverage: Ask too frequently and the networks could simple decline to cover the president.

The other option is to put the president before the media during the day. But the concern there is that the potential audience is dramatically smaller.

As a result, the White House is making the strategic calculation that it will get better results by doing many selected interviews across a variety of platforms -- television, radio, print -- instead of daytime news conferences.

Reuters' Bohan said she hopes the White House adjusts its thinking on the issue of access to the president.

"I think it's very important that they do make him more available for press conferences," she said. "I think that the unfortunate trend in presidencies is that each year access gets narrowed more and more and I think we're seeing that trend this year."

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