WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Three past presidents and veterans of the White House Correspondents Association agreed that President Barack Obama is the “least accessible” of any modern president.
A Tuesday panel discussion for the 100th anniversary celebration of the White House Correspondents Association featured veteran journalists – National Journal’s George Condon, ABC News’ Ann Compton, and Reuters’ Steve Holland – agreeing that Obama is the “least accessible” president to reporters.
When asked if Obama is the “least accessible” of any president they have covered, Holland replied, “I would say that.”
Holland added that President George H.W. Bush would notify reporters 30 minutes prior to meeting the press, and then would “come down to the briefing room and take all questions,” Newsmax’s John Gizzi first reported.
When asked how to fix White House access problems, Compton responded, “I think the president has to think that communicating with the press is part of his job.”
Compton, who has covered seven presidents under 17 separate White House press secretaries, said that correspondents have gone “months and months” without seeing the president.
Compton added that access to the president “is far worse” than it has ever been during her career.
Condon said that the White House correspondents are constantly pushing for access, saying that, “once we lose something, we usually don’t get it back.” He noted that the Obama administration “has its own news broadcast” through the White House website, in which the president is “interviewed” by his own deputy press secretary.
The journalists’ comments are direct criticism of an administration that vowed to increase transparency throughout government, declaring on the White House website that the administration “is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”
“Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use,” the president wrote in a WhiteHouse.gov message on transparency and open government.