Analyzing The White House Press Conference Analysis

By Alex Weprin 

SmartPolitics, a blog from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, examines President Obama’s press conferences during his first term, and tries to tease out themes.

The headline they came up with is “Fox Still Shunned at Obama Press Conferences.” That is not entirely fair, as Fox was clearly not “shunned” when you look at the numbers. You can, however, argue that FNC did not get treated as fairly as its┬ácompetitors.

Because the President always gives the first question to a wire reporter for Reuters or the AP (usually the AP) and the second question traditionally goes to a broadcast network, it isn’t surprising that the broadcasters and the wire networks led the pack. Those outlets also have by far the most reach of any of the news outlets examined. The only other outlets to get more questions than Fox was CNN, the New York Times and Bloomberg.

The biggest surprise of the bunch is Bloomberg, which saw more questions than both CNN and Fox. That too, however, can be simply explained. Whenever the President has wanted to send a message to Wall Street or the business community, he has done so through Bloomberg. When he has held a press conference on economic issues he almost always calls on them, because he knows they will ask about economic issues (not a given for general news outlets). Ergo, Bloomberg gets more questions that its combined viewership and readership may warrant.

As for Fox, one could persuasively argue that the network did not get as many questions as it deserved given its viewership. Given that the administration and Fox have not always been on the friendliest of terms, and that FNC tends to ask very critical questions, there are plenty of fingers to be pointed.