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Unscripted news conference of White House

Posted January. 08, 2014 04:14,   


On December 20 last year before going on a winter vacation, U.S. President Barack Obama stood in front of a podium at the White House press room. The 49-seat briefing room was packed with nearly 100 reporters. Excluding the seven minutes he used for introductory remarks, the U.S. president spent one hour of the year-end news conference in receiving questions and giving answers.

White House press conference proceeds without a preliminary script. There is no prompter that is often used in presidential speeches. Q&A is the highlight of the conference as it clearly reveals how much the president is aware of pending issues. President Obama received the list of 10 reporters who will make questions from White House press secretary Jay Carney on the very conference day, and gave the reporters chance to ask questions one by one. Reporters of influential media take seat on the first and second rows. The reporters` questions were harsh. Some of the questions were on the plunging presidential support rate, Edward Snowden`s exposure of National Security Agency`s viewing and listening to phone and personal records, the drifting Obamacare and the president`s conflict with Congress.

The reporters and the president engage in an arrow and shield game, and this is an uncompromising match. President Obama gave a female AP reporter chance to make the first question saying she appears to be a good reporter, and the reporter asked him whether it was the worst year for him. Many reporters cut the president`s answers in the middle if they thought they were not to the point. One female reporter asked the president his new year`s wish. President Obama said he will be more generous to reporters, and the reporters burst into laughter.

A Korean reporter would have enjoyed vicarious experience by watching 78 press conferences that President Obama attended that went live on TV with 300 million Americans watching. The U.S. president must have had hard time preparing for possible questions but did his best to satisfy the reporters. U.S. president`s press conference is very exciting and alive. President Park Geun-hye had her first press conference in 10 months since taking office, but it was obvious that the questions were handed out to the reporters in advance. Her New Year`s news conference well compares with that of the U.S. president.

Editorial Writer Choi Yeong-hae (yhchoi65@donga.com)