The recent kerfuffle between the Obama administration and the White House press corps over President Obama’s golf vacation in Florida got Friday’s NOW panel talking about the appropriate level of access to the president–and the proper use of that access.
Up host Chris Hayes lamented the press’s decision to take a stand over something as mundane as a golf pairing with Tiger Woods whilst accepting the administration’s escalating use of drones overseas.
“I don’t want to gloss over too lightly on where [the press] chose to plant their flag,” Hayes said. ”What were they frustrated about? They were frustrated they didn’t get a picture of Tiger Woods and the president. The reason they were frustrated… is because that would have been traffic and a lot of news and everyone would have talked about it.”
“The point is, where you plant your flag shows where your values are,” he added. “You cannot walk back after you’ve made a huge stink about Tiger Woods to say this is also about drones.”
Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith disagreed. ”Why can’t people take a picture of the president golfing with Tiger Woods?” he asked. “I agree it’s not a big deal, but it is a reflex to not show the public things that they’re paying for.”
The panel also compared the level of access granted by this White House to past administrations. Hayes sounded skeptical when Alex Wagner said President Obama has held fewer press conferences than any president in recent memory. According to statistics compiled by resident CBS Radio White House correspondent Mark Knoller, President Obama held 21 solo full-scale news conferences in his first term compared with 15 by his predecessor, George W. Bush, in his.
However, if you count all public events at which the presidents took questions, President Obama trailed every president since Ronald Reagan. The full list, compiled by The American Presidency Project, can be found here.