Why should President Obama respect the press? He knows they will do his bidding anyway. From the Washington Post:
The Press Trust of India, at Obama’s meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, reported, “In less than a minute, the pool was asked to leave.” The Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent found that she was “ushered out about 30 seconds” after arriving for Obama’s meeting with the Malaysian prime minister. A reporter with Turkey’s TRT-Turk went to Obama’s meeting with the president of Armenia, but “we had to leave the room again after less than 40 seconds.”
Even the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, was more talkative with the press than Obama. Michelle Jamrisko, with Japan’s Kyodo News, noted in her pool report that Hu, at his session with Obama, spoke to the Chinese media in Chinese, while Obama limited himself mostly to “say hello to the cameras” and “thank you everybody.”
Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press. . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”
Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said it was the most restricted set of such meetings they had ever seen. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents’ Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
The restrictions have become a common practice for the Obama White House. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the White House a couple of weeks ago, reporters were kept away. Soon after that, Obama signed an executive order on abortion, again without any coverage.
Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the “protective” pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan’s prime minister, saying reporters “were very upset.”
In “bilateral” meetings with foreign leaders, presidents usually take questions, or at least trade statements. But at most of Obama’s, there were only written “readouts.” Canada: “The president and the prime minister noted the enduring strength of our bilateral partnership.” India: “The two leaders vowed to continue to strengthen the robust relationship between the people of their countries.” Pakistan: “President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan.”
And for all the respect President Bush showed the press, look what it got him.
But the issue for Obama is deeper. He just doesn’t respect Freedom of the Press or the Constitution all that much. It’s more fundamental than being a complete narcissist and not wanting to deal with uncomfortable questions or restricting an environment that is not 100% controlled–although those are big factors.
All Presidents want to control message. That’s nothing new. President Obama doesn’t feel the need to even share a message when it doesn’t suit him. And so, in utter contempt for American notions of freedom of the press, he doesn’t.