Some of the biggest names in the news business complained about the relationship between the White House press corps and the Obama White House accusing the press of being too deferential to President Obama.
Former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry moderated a panel on the 50th anniversary of the first televised presidential news conference which was conducted by John F. Kennedy. Panelists included Sid Davis, Haynes Johnson, Don Larrabee, John Palmer, and Sander Vanocur.
When talking about the current press corps, Davis said, “I don’t like today’s news conferences” with the president. Kennedy’s, he says, were “thoroughly unrehearsed, natural and they worked to a large extent.” Today’s versions, he adds, “look like they are rehearsed.”
U.S. News and World Report’s Paul Bedard reported on the forum; to read his full story, click here.
UPDATE (4:54 PM): In today’s White House press briefing Robert Gibbs confirmed he was leaving the White House and when asked about leaving and what his next steps were, Gibbs responded, “that is it is an honor and a privilege to stand here, to work inside this building, to serve your country, to work for a President that I admire as much as President Barack Obama. I’ve been a member of his staff for almost seven years, and it’s — again, it’s a remarkable privilege. It is in many ways the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will be forever thankful and grateful for. What I’m going to do next is step back a little bit, recharge some. We’ve been going at this pace for at least four years. I will have an opportunity I hope to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this President. And I look forward to continuing to do that.”
To view the full press briefing and Gibbs statement click here.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will be leaving the White House briefing room podium in early February according to a New York Times article from this morning.
Gibbs will continue to be an adviser to President Obama and will work on his re-election campaign as well as hit the speaking circuit.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks with Robert Gibbs at the White House
President Obama commented on Gibbs’ departure to the New York Times in a brief phone interview, saying: “We’ve been on this ride together since I won my Senate primary in 2004… He’s had a six-year stretch now where basically he’s been going 24/7 with relatively modest pay. I think it’s natural for someone like Robert to want to step back for a second to reflect, retool and that, as a consequence, brings about both challenges and opportunities for the White House.” The President declined to comment on who would be replacing him but said “You’ll be seeing announcements in due course.”
Former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino and her former deputy Tony Fratto, along with ex-Bush press adviser Ed Gillespie, will advise House Republican press secretaries during their annual workshop at the end of this week, Politico reports. Specifically, they will advise on reshaping the GOP’s overall message.
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Behind the Scenes at the New White House Briefing Room Redesigned for the 24/7 News Cycle
The White Briefing Room Series
Part One: The Technology
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in 2007. Courtesy of White House Photo Office.
On the surface, the revamped and spiffed-up White House Press Briefing Room looks like a clean, well-lighted and more streamlined version of its old self. But largely hidden from public view is evidence of the extensive cutting-edge technology — not to mention the intensive labor — that went into the 2006-07 renovation.
For instance, that rich, royal blue backdrop behind the podium? Not blue at all. “That’s an entirely new backdrop with lots of LEDs,” says Scott Sforza, the former White House deputy assistant communications director and director of the renovation project. “Those lights can make the backdrop any color of the spectrum.”
Complete walls were torn out. A stairwell to access cabling in the deep end of the pool below the briefing room floor was dug and installed. (Yes, the briefing room is atop the old White House swimming pool.) New wiring, new lighting, new air conditioning (finally serious air flow), and pretty much new everything went in. Read more…