Press Loves Obama!
Andrew Malcolm and Patrick Gavin point out that the “remarkably dissimilar treatment” that President Obama and President Bush got from the White House press corps, noting that they stand in respect for the former and kept their seats for the latter.
CBS’ Mark Knoller provides a plausible explanation:
It’s a long-standing practice for reporters to rise when the president enters the East Room for a news conference, but that hasn’t been the case in the briefing room. I checked with two colleagues who served as senior wire service reporters during the Bush Presidency and who, in matters of press protocol, the rest of us followed. “The briefing room is always a more informal place,” says Steve Holland of Reuters.
But the principal reason reporters remained in their seats, he said, was not to block the shot of TV cameramen and still photographers in the back of the room who were trying to make a picture of the president’s walk-in.
No disrespect was intended for President Bush and to the best of my knowledge none was taken.
In addition, it only takes about three steps for the president to reach the lectern from the press room door. He’d be ready to begin and many reporters would barely be out of their seats, which used to be further complicated by swivel desks that had to be shifted out of the way.
So far, so good. But, um, wasn’t Obama in the briefing room?
When some reporters stood up for President Obama last Friday, they forgot about the needs of their colleagues in the back of the room as well as the less formal atmosphere of the briefing room. Certainly it was a sign of respect for the president, but not one of disrespect for his predecessor.
It was President Obama’s first time at the briefing room lectern since taking office and for some new members of the White House Press, it was their first time seeing a president enter the room as well.
So, a rookie mistake? Or maybe they were just startled to see Obama walk in and take over unexpectedly? I can live with that.
Amusingly, the thing that set Malcolm off to begin with was the statement by White House culture czar Kareem Dale at the Atlantic Council last week that “At the White House, as we always like to say, we love MSNBC.” It should be noted that Dale, there to introduce the Council’s Distinguished Artistic Leadership Award honoree Thomas Hampson, had just been given a very long and warm introduction by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and the emcees of the event.
Ed Morrissey also whacks Dale for claiming that the arts are accorded “second class” status in the United States, noting that most great art is made without government subsidy. I make the counterargument in my New Atlanticist post, “Where Words Fail, Music Speaks.”