As President Obama nears the two-month mark since his last formal press conference, deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest deflected inquiries about why the White House press corps has not had opportunity since then to question the president.
The Obama administration has come under fire from Republican groups as well as individual journalists for going so long without a full-fledged press conference, in which the president takes questions from journalists assigned specifically to the White House.
Earnest pointed to interviews Obama has conducted with local media outlets and open press events (in which the president does not typically take questions) as examples of when the national media has heard from the president.
He referred specifically to Obama’s three-day Iowa bus trip, during which the president held seven public events, conducted several radio interviews and did two print editorial board roundtables, but took no questions from the national press traveling with him.
“The president spent a lot of time talking publicly about the issues that he thinks are at stake in this election and are worthy of an important political debate about the future of the country,” Earnest said.
Earnest also counted a spontaneous shouted question from a member of the press pool, which provides editorial guidance for the rest of the press corps if an event is too small/difficult to fit everyone, as an example of the president facing the national media.
“The president did a bill signing in the Oval Office at the beginning of last week in which one of your colleagues asked a question, the president answered it,” Earnest said.
Earnest was referring to the president’s ceremony to sign the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law. At the end of the signing, he answered a shouted question over whether he would push for further gun control measures in light of the shooting of the Wisconsin Sikh temple.
After Obama answered that question, the pool was ushered out of the Oval Office.