Celebrity-in-chief

Obama chooses pop culture banality over substantial queries from news media

President Obama took time away from People magazine and Entertainment Tonight recently to drop in on White House reporters for an unscheduled mini-press conference.

The move came as criticism was mounting that the president had been avoiding the White House press corps in favor of fluffy pop culture outlets and starry-eyed local television reporters.

The unannounced visit to the White House briefing room is obviously an attempt to tamp down the criticism over the fact that Mr. Obama hasn’t answered press corps questions in two months. But it also has the added benefit of not allowing reporters to prepare challenging questions.

It also lessens the chance for the president to make another gaffe, as he did when, apparently off-teleprompter, he said to business owners, “You didn’t build that!”

When asked, Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said that pop culture and lifestyle media outlets are “equally important” to the president as the news media.

That tells you a mouthful right there.

Even when deigning to grant local reporters interviews, the White House is carefully crafting them to touch on only certain topics.

“I think that’s where a lot of Americans get their news,” Cutter says of the entertainment media.

“If so,” writes former USA Today correspondent Richard Benedetto, “a lot of Americans are only getting the president’s side of the story. And that’s the way he wants it.”

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