A new study by the University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier indicates that President Obama has some very pronounced patterns in who he calls on for questions:
Over the course of the president’s first term, he has generally maintained the tiered approach as to which outlets ask the questions (with the Big 3 and Associated Press usually getting the green light), although the president has departed from tradition on occasion – famously calling on a digital-only media outlet’s reporter (Huffington Post’s Sam Stein) during his first news conference in February 2009.
But as for FOX, these have been relatively lean years in terms of getting the presidential nod at news conferences, particularly in light of the news outlet’s reach vis-à-vis some of the other media organizations which have received more questions.
A Smart Politics analysis finds that ABC reporters have been called on the most frequently during Barack Obama’s solo news conferences followed by CBS, the Associated Press, and NBC with FOX News coming in at a distant ninth at less than half the rate of the top outlets and less than 40 percent of press conferences overall.
To be fair, Jake Tapper (until just recently) worked for ABC News and was well-known for asking some very tough questions. Indeed, Tapper was the most called-on reporter in the press room according to the study. But Fox is also the nation’s most-watched cable news network, by a country mile, and guess who got the second most questions (and, by far, the most follow-up questions)?
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd:
Todd, who is perhaps the King of the follow-up question, has made the most of the 23 news conferences in which his name has been called by the president.
Todd has been able to parlay this into 52 series of questions and follow-up questions (excluding multiple questions posed within one series), including multiple queries to the president on the debt ceiling on Monday.
The real problem is that the study is forced to work from an exceedingly small sample. Obama, frankly, didn’t hold that many in his first term. Just 79 in four years, the least since Reagan.