Newt Gingrich this past week said the following, per NBC's John Boxley, about Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) not speaking to the press.
"I think she should have a press conference at least as often as President Obama...check how often President Obama has had real press conferences, very very seldom, less than any recent president."
So First Read did check.
First, a note about accessibility. President Obama went through one of the longest primaries in American history. Democrats had about 40 debates, including the three for the presidential general election. That's not including the various question-and-answer sessions at the back of campaign planes. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and most of the others who ran in 2008 were far more vetted and questioned than Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, or Sarah Palin, for that matter, whom the press had just two-plus months to question before the general election.
Regarding his time in office, President Obama, through Sept. 10, 2010, has held 37 press conferences (16 solo and 21 joint), according to data compiled by Dr. Martha Joynt Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University. Obama has held 67 short question-and-answer sessions, 216 interviews and 820 addresses and remarks.
He has averaged about two press conferences per month. Where does that rank when it comes to "any recent president?"
It's slightly less than former President George W. Bush, who average 2.2 per month over eight years; it's the same as former President Clinton, who also averaged 2.0 per month; and four times as many as former President Reagan, who held just an average of 0.5 per month. In fact, Obama in less than two years, has given just 10 fewer total press conferences than Reagan did in eight years (36 vs. 46).
President George H.W. Bush gave an average of 3.0 per month; Carter just 1.2 a month; Ford 1.3; Nixon 0.6; Johnson 2.2; Kennedy 1.9; Eisenhower 2.0; Truman 3.4; Hoover 5.6; Coolidge 7.8; Wilson 1.7.
The most press conferences by a president -- by far -- was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who held 1,020, or an average of seven per month. Calvin Coolidge, however, had more press conferences on average -- 7.8.
As far as strictly solo press conferences, President Obama has given two fewer than President George W. Bush did in his first four years (15 vs. 17). President Bush gave 33 in his second term. President Clinton gave 44 in his first terms and 18 in his second term. H.W. Bush gave 84 solo in four years. President Reagan gave 27 solo in his first term, and 19 solo in his second. President Carter gave 59.
President Obama has given more interviews to reporters than any of his immediate predecessors through Sept. 10 of their first terms. He's given 216 interviews; President George W. Bush gave 76; President Clinton 82; George H.W. Bush 87. President Obama's addresses and remarks are already more than H.W. Bush (625), but W. Bush (908) and Clinton (837) gave more.