Obama's "Between Two Ferns" appearance comes on the heels of a sitdown with former NBA great Charles Barkley, an interview that ran during the All-Star game weekend last month. He's also done a podcast with Grantland's Bill Simmons. And a sitdown with Steve Harvey. He's done "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart six times — including twice as president... Now, compare those appearances to the number of times Obama has sat down with more "traditional" media outlets. The last time the Washington Post had an interview with Obama was in December 2009. The last time the New York Times had one was July 2013.
Cillizza understands the point of the Ferns appearance and other appearances like it: President Obama is trying to reach people who don't consume traditional news. But these offbeat appearances should come in conjunction with meatier interviews with the press, not at the expense of them. The problem with these appearances are that they're basically the physical equivalent of press releases: Everything is vetted beforehand, and there are very few opportunities to get antagonistic with the president and push back on issues that need pushing back on. I've been disappointed by the lack of media access to President Obama. Unscripted appearances might result in public relations nightmares for the administration, but they'd be good for the nation.
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