Obama Less Accessible Than Bush, Clinton

Obama's reputation for not communicating with Congress also applies to the press.

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President Barack Obama gestures during the final news conference of his first term as he speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.
President Barack Obama gestures during the final news conference of his first term Jan. 14.

Despite White House claims of accessibility and openness, President Obama has had fewer news conferences during his first term than three of his four predecessors—and in some cases the margin isn't even close.

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Counting Monday's news conference, Obama has held 79 such encounters with the media over four years, compared with 89 for George W. Bush, 133 for Bill Clinton, and 143 for George H.W. Bush. Ronald Reagan held only 27. These totals include joint news conferences with foreign leaders and full-fledged news conferences when the presidents appeared solo.

In addition, Obama has held 107 short question-and-answer sessions with reporters. George W. Bush held 354, Clinton 612, George H.W. Bush 313, and Reagan 158.

News conferences by presidents "represent an important opportunity to explain their policies and their actions, as well as their goals," political scientist Martha Joynt Kumar told Politico. Kumar is a Towson University scholar who did the analysis.

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White House officials say Obama grants many more one-on-one interviews with the media than his predecessors did, which the officials say is another measure of his accessibility and openness.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.