President Obama Bypasses White House Press Corps for Other Q&A Opportunities

Feb 2, 2012 12:07pm

President Obama talks to the White House press corps far fewer than his predecessors, but he gives more interviews to a variety of folks, ranging from news anchors to late-night comedians to members of the public via social media.

This is the conclusion of a study of such interactions by political science professor Martha Kumar of Towson University. Kumar studies how White Houses interact with the media; her numbers were first reported by The Hill earlier this week. 

Kumar says that President Obama has held 17 solo White House news conferences at the White House so far, more than President George W. Bush (11) at this point in his presidency, but fewer than President Bill Clinton (31), President George H.W. Bush (56), and President Reagan (21).

The total of solo press conferences he’s had anywhere — such as on foreign soil after a summit – is 29. George W. Bush’s total is 11 — he didn’t hold any solo press conferences outside the White House up to this point. Bill Clinton held 40 solo press conferences in his first three years; George H.W. Bush held 72; Reagan held 21.

President Obama has been far more reluctant to engage in impromptu back and forth with reporters, at photo sprays and the like. President Obama has taken questions at 94 such events.

For Bush Jr. that number was 307; for Bill Clinton, 493; for Bush Sr., 263; for Reagan 120.

Mr. Obama has given more interviews: 408. His predecessor at this point had given 136 interviews, while Bill Clinton had given 166. Reagan gave 164. (Numbers for George H.W. Bush are still being researched.)

As Brian Stelter of the New York Times points out  Mr. Obama’s interviews have been with myriad inquisitors, from ABC News World News anchor Diane Sawyer last week to users of Google+ this week. Mr. Obama was the first sitting president to come on “The Tonight Show,” for instance.

In terms of the total number of remarks he has made to citizens — not including any exchanges with reporters, but including remarks to folks in line at a burger joint to formal addresses to the nation and the State of the Union address — President Obama has made 1,436.

For Bush Jr., that number at this point in his presidency is 1,475; Clinton – 1,513; Bush Sr. – 1,180; Reagan – 953.

-Jake Tapper

*This post has been updated with the very latest scholarship from Professor Kumar who came into our booth to give the latest numbers! Thanks, professor!

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