NBC’s Meredith Vieira: ‘Real Shocker To Me’ That Obama Hadn’t Done National Press Conference for 7 Months

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 4, 2010 | 6:33 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Meredith Vieira, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, said it was “a real shocker to me” to learn that President Obama had not given a nationally televised press conference for seven months prior to his last one in mid February. She also said that a president “should be available to the media as much as possible because that’s the only way the public can get answers.”
Meredith Vieira spoke with CNSNews.com on the red carpet at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, May 1, in Washington D.C.

Up until mid-February, President Obama went seven months without holding a national press conference where reporters have the opportunity to ask the president questions live on television.
CNSNews.com asked Vieira, “Up until mid-February, he (Obama) had gone seven months without a national press conference, where he’s able to answer questions from reporters impromptu. Do you think he should make himself more available in the future to the press?”
Vieira said, “I feel he’s so available. I feel – the other criticism of President Obama is that he’s always on television. People wonder whether he’s getting any work done. So I, I’m surprised when you say 7 months. That’s a real shocker to me because I feel like he’s always doing some network.”
“I think the president should be available to the media as much as possible,” said Vieira,  “because that’s the only way the public can get answers. So, if it’s been 7 months, he’s probably due.”
ABC Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper said President Obama has done more one-on-one interviews than any other president, so less press conferences is a “trade off.”
“Everybody in the press corps thinks that there should be as many primetime press conferences as possible and I’m not alone,” said Tapper.  But he has done more interviews than any other president, so it’s a trade-off,  really. I’m not really one of the guys that complains all of the time. If I have an issue with the White House, I take it up privately with the White House.”
During the dinner, Jake Tapper and Ben Feller of the Associated Press were awarded the Merriman Smith Award for their coverage of the president on deadline. Tapper won for his report that exposed the tax issues of former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) after he was nominated by President Obama as Health and Human Services secretary.