Forget Chris Matthews — he’ll take Nancy O’Dell.
President Barack Obama has been taking a lot of questions in the two months since his last press conference or national news interview. He’s just been doing them with ESPN, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine and FM radio stations around the country, mostly to talk local sports and regional cuisine.
This isn’t a mistake. Even at the height of a campaign in which they’ve been firing hard at Mitt Romney and trying to keep hold of the news cycle, Obama’s reelection staffers are pretty sure most voters aren’t tuning in.
“People get their news in many different ways,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told POLITICO. “Sometimes it’s turning on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and seeing what the latest news is out there.” [...]
Obama’s campaign swing across Iowa this week is a case study in his low-risk, low-stakes media strategy. Obama spoke with Carlos, Kiki and Danny on KOB-FM, Big Ken and Colleen on Star 102.5, People magazine, “Entertainment Tonight” and a handful of local newspapers. (One local newspaper reporter filed a story about how exciting it was to ask Obama a question — without transcribing the answer to the question). In July, he sat for interviews with 35 outlets — 26 of which were local TV stations, newspapers or radio outlets, according to data provided by CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
Obama has even declined an interview with the friendliest liberal outlet on television. Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd sat down with Mitt Romney for a one-on-one interview that will be featured in an hourlong MSNBC documentary that will air prior to the Republican convention. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who has been very public about his support for Obama, was not granted an interview with the president for the network’s Obama documentary, which will run prior to the Democratic convention. The White House offered Biden instead.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt defended the president, pointing out that he has been available for “dozens of questions each week on the campaign trail” from local media outlets.