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Earnest: Lots Ways to ‘Slice and Dice Numbers’ on Amount of Press Conferences Given By Obama

• May 11, 2016 3:29 pm

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Hours after White House spokesman Josh Earnest extended a doughnut olive branch to the press corps NBC's Ron Allen asked Earnest about an analysis that President Obama has had fewer press conferences than the two previous predecessors.

"I think there are a lot of different ways to slice and dice these numbers," Earnest said. "Obviously, the president was just out here five days ago doing a news conference with all of you, standing at this podium. He does them with some regularity but there are a lot of different ways to slice and dice the numbers here."

Allen pointed out that the American Presidency Project is a nonpartisan project based out of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The American Presidency Project reported that Obama has given an average of 1.69 press conferences a month compared to President George W. Bush, who gave 2.18 press conferences a month and President Bill Clinton, who gave 2.01.

The press corps has been vocal about its limited access to the president even after his claims that Obama would be the "most transparent administration in history."

Allen asked why, given the data, has the president been less accessible to the press than his predecessors, and why the administration does not see it that way.

"I think the president has done a lot of news conferences. It certainly is your job, as you sit here in the briefing room and as you cover the president every day to advocate for more access to the president and for news conferences and more opportunities to ask him questions," Earnest said. "We understand that is part of the give and take that has characterized the relationship between the White House and the White House press corp for at least one century, possibly two."

Earnest also said that Obama has done more one-on-one interviews with reporters from inside the White House and other places than any of his predecessors. Earnest said that it was an effort to engage with independent professional journalists.

Obama has taken time to meet with student journalists, YouTube stars and record a Healthcare.gov public service video with Buzzfeed.