7 Sad Facts From Politico’s Poll Of White House Reporters
On the eve of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Politico Magazine conducted its second-annual poll of White House correspondents, gauging their opinions on what its really like to cover the president up-close. Their answers, to say the least, are hardly flattering towards Obama:
1. Obama absolutely loathes the press
78 percent of White House reporters said the statement “President Obama dislikes the press” was true, compared with only 22 percent who said it was false.
2. Obama is getting more hostile with time.
Obama has been criticized for years for his adversarial relationship with the press, but rather than opening up following his re-election, reporters think he is closing himself off even more. Out of 67 responses, 25 think that Obama has become less open with the press since his 2012 reelection, while only 5 believe he has become more open.
3. Obama’s attitude is historically exceptional.
While some might suggest that Obama’s adversarial attitude towards the press is simply a part of being the president, the reporters themselves view Obama as much more hostile than his predecessors. Among reporters who have covered multiple administrations, a whopping 65 percent say Obama is the least press-friendly president they’ve seen (George W. Bush was a distant second at 11 percent). A miserable 3 percent say Obama is the most press-friendly president, dead last among presidents from the past 30 years.
4. Surprise! Michelle Obama doesn’t like the press either.
Attitudes toward the First Lady are almost identical to those directed at her husband. 79 percent of respondents say Michelle dislikes the press, compared to 21 percent who disagree. When asked to rank nine White House figures (excluding the president) based on how helpful they were to reporters, Michelle was ranked dead last.
5. Most White House correspondents are shut out.
Despite Obama’s claims to be running “the most transparent administration in history,” most reporters don’t appear to be reaping the benefits of this transparency. According to the poll, 63 percent of correspondents have literally never asked Obama a question, in any of his press conferences. 58 percent admitted that in the past week they hadn’t spoken to a single person in the White House who wasn’t part of the press team, indicating a significant lack of press access to those making actual decisions in the White House.
6. White House reporters are alarmingly willing to compare Obama to Jimmy Carter.
One question in Politico’s poll noted that Obama is frequently compared to other presidents throughout history, and asked reporters to name which president they thought Obama was most similar to. For whatever reason, only six presidents were explicitly offered as options: Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon. Undeterred however, ten percent of correspondents put in write-in votes for Jimmy Carter, enough for third place in the poll (behind only FDR at 16 percent and Bush at 14 percent).
7. White House reporters can have strange priorities about what matters in politics.
Despite otherwise expressing a negative view about Obama’s attitude and level of openness towards the press, respondents showed a strange willingness to toe the Administration’s line when asked to name what stories were the most over-hyped or undercovered from the last six years. According to reporters, the most “overhyped” stories almost all consist of scandals and problems that have dogged Obama: ObamaCare (9 responses), Benghazi (8), the IRS scandal (3), Hillary Clinton’s emails (2), and Secret Service shortcomings (2).
What stories are undercovered, according to reporters? The war on terrorism takes first place, with 8 votes, and “lack of transperency” gets 5, but several others seem to simply be the regurgitation of things Obama wishes the press talked about more: Economic growth gets four votes and global warming gets 3.
Most inexplicable of all, however, are the two White House reporters who believe that “The Obamas’ relationship” is the most undercovered story in Washington. Ladies and gentlemen, the media!
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