February 19th, 2009
02:15 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama's makeup round

OTTAWA, Canada - Ever wonder how President Obama decides which reporters to call upon at a news conference? Here in Canada, it appears to be a matter of the President soothing some bruised feelings by calling on two newspaper reporters he recently skipped over at his first White House press conference. 

As I sit in the front row for the event about to start with the President and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the buzz among American reporters is that the lucky folks are David Jackson of USA
Today and Jonathan Weisman of The Wall Street Journal.

The behind-the-scenes story is that Jackson and Weisman, who work for two major papers, were not happy that the President didn't call on them at the big East Room newser earlier this month.

One way for White House officials to make it up to the gentlemen –and their sizable readerships - would be to call on them now. Sure enough, several reporters say Weisman and Jackson have been tipped that Obama will call on them today. And sure enough, both men have been given prime seats - front and center - here in Canada.


Then again, being tipped off that you're getting a question to a president doesn't always work out as planned. I remember in Colombia a couple of years ago, an aide to President Bush tipped me that I should be ready to be called on.

Then Bush himself winked at me, so I got armed and ready. And then when my turn was coming, the President looked down at the piece of paper at his podium reminding him of who to call on and appeared to lose his place on the page.

Under pressure to call out a name, he fell back on blurting the name of an Associated Press reporter in the front row - and my carefully-crafted question never saw the light of day.

Filed under: Canada • President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. yuri

    Press! Powerful pack of people, decidedly rule theroost, especially in politics. Paparazzi is a different story. The prez will do well to ponder over this point and pose properly.

    February 19, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. walleye

    The man should answer all questions honestly and fairly, however he does not have endless hours to sit their and answer questions from EVERY reporter. They will all get their chance in due time.

    February 19, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Ex-Republican

    So, now I want to know what the question was that you didn't get to ask. Would it have ended the illegal war in Iraq?

    Teasing, but am serious about wanting to know what the question is.

    February 19, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Jackie Ste Marie

    Cool music will not help the republican image if they continue to act like disgruntled idiots. My advice to most republicans is to pull your heads out of your where the sun doesn't shine and start working for "THE PEOPLE" otherwise you will see a replay with voters in the future. We are sick and tired of your tired attitudes.

    February 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Sam Sixpack

    What great news! Isn't it comforting to know press conferences are staged? Otherwise, the nasty ol' truth might get out.

    February 19, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. lol

    chuckie t. from msnbc was whining because obama preselects the reporters that are allowed to ask him a question. obama doesn't allow follow up questions to be asked. everyone knows obama likes to give a long thought out response, and for him to answer questions he has to set a limit to whom can question him.

    February 19, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. obama-mama

    He is so thoughtful. Great president.

    February 19, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. Sly in Seattle

    you sound a little mad there, Ed 🙂

    February 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Jackie in Dallas

    Hmm. I wonder just important the media thinks that the general population thinks this is? Now, I understand that calling on reporters from all news media is good for maintaining good will in press corps, but just how does this matter to us, the citizens?

    Well, for one thing, the Wall Street Journal is the mouthpiece of the financial world, and is considered relatively non-partisan, and USA Today has a fairly wide general readership (although I'm not very sure of their political slant, as I don't read it). I get that. But why is this news? Even the story about the puppy for Sasha and Malia is more newsworthy!

    February 19, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Obama Fan

    And the point is..

    oh, that he is a fair minded person?

    February 19, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Aspire

    Yeah right !

    February 19, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Mike

    and I am sure they both also gave his staff "the question" so they could prepare a sound byte answer for him.

    February 19, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Kim in Canada

    I ♥ him. I really do. I wish he could stay.

    February 19, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. sensible Cape Coral FL

    He obviously can't call on everyone at every press conference.
    Give the guy a break.

    February 19, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. lionel

    ed, stop crying. you'll get your turn again someday.

    February 19, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Jon in CA

    Ed Henry reflects,

    "Then Bush himself winked at me, so I got armed and ready. And then when my turn was coming, the President looked down at the piece of paper at his podium reminding him of who to call on and appeared to lose his place on the page."

    I always wondered how and why CNN became such a left-leaning news corp... turns out CNN reporters having a temper-tantrum because they weren't called on.... wow.

    February 19, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. ray ray

    Doesn't Obama's teleprompter tell him the name of the reporter, the reporter's question, and the carefully crafted answer??

    Every time I hear this guy actually called on to answer an impromptu question ... he only stammers, stutters, and verbally dances around.

    February 19, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. no to corporate politics

    Kind of sweet way to say the way he calls on reporters is FIXED.
    I think the people of GAZA have a few questions for you.

    February 19, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. cheryl brooks from cali

    So what!!!!!!!!! All the media do anyway is say unsupportive comments about him... I believe they are bought and paid for.....

    February 19, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  20. R in Maine

    He does not owe anybody anything. The questions often do not show the knowledge of even high school civics. Most of these children are too dumb to be given time on the national stage. They are just more of the gotcha approach of the current press corp.

    February 19, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. chuck

    With Bush it didn't matter who was called upon, only what the pre-selected question was.

    February 19, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Will-South Dakota

    Boo Hoo

    February 19, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    @ ray ray, who lied "Every time I hear this guy actually called on to answer an impromptu question … he only stammers, stutters, and verbally dances around."

    Really? That's funny, because his press conference was just about the clearest, most explanatory and open press conference and answers we've heard given by a president for at least the last half century and smart Republicans won't disagree with that because it makes them look stupid. What you might want to do, instead of repeating lies ad nauseum, is find a talking point with at least a little factual support...just a little...so you don't constonue to damage the GOP's credibility.

    February 19, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. naqib

    Kim in Canada February 19th, 2009 3:34 pm ET
    I ♥ him. I really do. I wish he could stay.

    Me too Kim... Me too

    February 19, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Lynn

    The media needs to get over themselves and their bloated egos and do their jobs which is objective, factual reporting.

    February 19, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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