When will Jonathan Goodluck address Nigerians? When will he grant a Press Conference to the Aso Villa Press Corp. When will he grant an interview to a Nigeria news media? All we got is Ima Niboro’s Press Releases!
In his last US visit, Jonathan took a question and answer session with at the Council on Foreign Relations. He granted his first media interview to Christiana Amanpour of the CNN.
Isn’t it ironic that the acting president granted his media interview to a foreign news organisation without speaking a to a Nigerians news media first?
Are we running a government of the people, for the people and by the people where the only time Jonathan has spoken directly to the Nigerian audience as acting president was when the National Assembly authorised him to act as such?
When will this governing by press releases stop?
On the other hand, any follower of the Barack Obama Presidency knows he has spoken countless times to the White House Press corps, given lectures, granted interviews and press conferences, yet, US Reporters say the White House is thin-skinned, controlling, eager to go over their heads and stingy with even basic information.
They complain that all White Houses try to control the message. But this White House has pledged to be more open than its predecessors, and US reporters feel it doesn’t live up to that pledge in several key areas:
— Day-to-day interaction with Obama is almost nonexistent, and he talks to the press corps far less often than Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush did. Clinton took questions nearly every weekday, on average. Obama barely does it once a week.
— The ferocity of pushback is intense. A routine press query can draw a string of vitriolic e-mails. A negative story can draw a profane high-decibel phone call or worse. Some reporters feel like they’ve been frozen out after crossing the White House.
— Except toward a few reporters, press secretary Robert Gibbs can be distant and difficult to reach — even though his job is to be one of the main conduits from president to press. “It’s an odd White House where it’s easier to get the White House chief of staff on the phone than the White House press secretary,” one top reporter said.
— And at the very moment many reporters feel shut out, one paper — The New York Times — enjoys a favoritism from Obama and his staff that makes competitors fume, with gift-wrapped scoops and loads of presidential face time.
“They seem to want to close the book on the highly secretive years of the Bush administration. However, in their relationship with the press, I think they’re doing what they think succeeded in helping Obama get elected,” said The New Yorker’s George Packer.
“I don’t think they need to be nice to reporters, but the White House seems to imagine that releasing information is like a tap that can be turned on and off at their whim,” Packer said.
Yet Obama’s White House aides can rightfully say they’ve set new standards for opening up access on several fronts, such as releasing previously secret visitors’ logs, expanding White House Web content and offering more than 150 sit-down interviews with Obama to selected reporters.
But Gibbs is unapologetic about sometimes taking a hard line in his dealings with the press, saying it’s a response to the viral nature of modern media.
If the US media complain about Obama’s White House, what will they say about Jonathan Goodluck’s Aso Villa never mind Umaru Yar’adua’s non-existent presidency while it lasted!