The White House press corps is buzzing because President Obama did the unexpected Tuesday afternoon: He stiffed network television reporters at his White House news conference by not calling on a single one of them.
Obama granted questions to correspondents from The Associated Press, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Reuters, NPR, The New York Times, Financial Times, Roll Call, Agence France-Presse, CBS Radio and Real Clear Politics.
As the hourlong session progressed, it became clear to the reporters in attendance and many in the viewing audience that none of the front-line network TV correspondents had gotten questions, which is extremely rare.
Toward the end of the encounter, TV reporters, who mostly sit in the first row, seemed restless and some began shouting questions instead of waiting to be called on. This prompted Obama to say, "I'm just going through my list, guys. Talk to Jay" – a reference to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
In fact, many non-TV reporters welcomed the snubbing of the TV stars because Obama and Carney usually allow the television correspondents to dominate such question-and-answer sessions, and many other journalists don't get to ask questions.
Much of the press-corps speculation centered on whether Obama was sending a message that he was displeased with how the TV networks have been covering him. He has complained in the past that TV coverage tends to be superficial, distorted and preoccupied with stirring up conflict.
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 "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.