Washington Post Columnist: Why Isn't Obama Doing Interviews With Newspaper?


Washington Post columnist Peter Farhi wonders why the President gives so many interviews to “soft media” and so few to more traditional “hard” political news outlets:

“Entertainment Tonight” scored one last year. The New York Times did not.

“The View” has gotten several. The Washington Post hasn’t had one in years.

Albuquerque radio station KOB-FM’s“Morning Mayhem” crew interviewed him in August. The last time the Wall Street Journal did so was in 2009.

America’s newspapers have trouble enough these days, what with shrinking ad revenue and straying readers. But the daily print-and-pixel press also hasn’t gotten much love lately from the biggest newsmaker in the business: President Obama.

When Obama does media interviews these days, it’s not with a newspaper. TV gets the bulk of the president’s personal attention, from his frequent appearances on “60 Minutes” to MTV to chitchats with local stations around the country. Magazines — including the New Republic, which recently landed an interview conducted by its owner, Facebook co-founder and former Obama campaign operative Chris Hughes — are a distant second, followed by radio.

The answer, I think, is two-fold.

For one, Obama is just taking the path of least resistance. He’s not likely to get as many tough questions from Entertainment Tonight or the “Morning Mayhem” radio show.

For two, Obama is probably reaching more people through “soft media” than he would through more traditional political media outlets.

I wrote about this shortly after the election, when criticism over Obama’s focus on interviews with Jay Leno and People magazine was still fresh in our minds. Like it or not, but Jay Leno and People have far more viewers/readers than Fox News and The Atlantic. Political journalists may pride themselves on covering the most important topics in the country, but their audience is far smaller than the “journalists” covering whatever antics the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo are up to.

Obama has that figured out. “Soft media” isn’t just about softball questions. It’s about softball questions in front of a much, much bigger audience.