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Obama's 'Call Me Maybe' press strategy

August 17, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama has been making time to field questions from disc jockeys and entertainment reporters. Republicans say he's dodging tough questions.
President Obama has been making time to field questions from disc jockeys… (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles…)

WASHINGTON -- “Red or green? (Chile)” That was the first question posed to the president of the United States in an interview that aired Friday morning on a New Mexico morning drive radio program, a traditional question in the Land of Enchantment.

The Q&A with the crew on KOB-FM’s “Morning Mayhem” was one of a handful President Obama participated in this week with non-traditional outlets, something that’s increasingly a sore spot for members of the White House press corps that haven’t enjoyed a presidential news conference since early June.

For the record, the president likes his chile red. He likes working out to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” but has yet to hear “Call Me Maybe.” And if he could have one superpower, it would be the ability to speak any language.

“It’s kind of a weird superpower,” he acknowledged. “The whole flying thing is pretty good,” he added.

People magazine, “Entertainment Tonight” and “Extra” also are among the outlets that scored interviews this week with the president. And while the “Morning Mayhem” affair was largely frivolous, some others did make news, like when Obama answered a question from People about Vice President Joe Biden’s “chains” comment.

But reporters who cover the president daily are understandably reluctant to see such opportunities granted to others with increasing frequency.

With Mitt Romney now having held more press availabilities of late, Republicans are happily noting the trend as well.

"Americans are hurting all over this country because of President Obama's weak economy and the president continues to hide from the tough questions in favor of softball interview questions," RNC chair Reince Priebus said in a statement.

The White House maintained Friday that Obama “has spent a lot of time answering questions from journalists all across the country.”

And, while on the campaign trail this week, Obama did “three and four events a day where he's talking about issues that he thinks are at the top of the political agenda, that are so critical to the future of this country,” spokesman Josh Earnest said at a White House press briefing.

“I have no doubt that the president will continue to take questions from the august body of journalists that are gathered in this room,” he said.

The non-traditional strategy has suited the White House well thus far. Early in his tenure he became the first president to sit for an interview on “The Tonight Show,” and later David Letterman’s “Late Show” and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” He’s also been on ESPN’s SportsCenter filling NCAA brackets, and has been on with the ladies of “The View” multiple times.

And, in an increasingly fragmented media environment, such diversity is key to reaching the widest possible swath of voters. Especially in an election year.

You can listen to the full KOB interview below:

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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