Class Notes 9/22

  • Press Briefings
    • Extremely detailed documentation of the conversation between Press Secretary Josh Earnest and the press
    • There are written reports and also a Youtube channel: The White House
  • Press Briefing 9/18/15: White House Press Briefing (video)
    • Opens with informal comedic remarks and works with the crowd
    • Begins with an announcement regarding Obama’s changes to our nation’s Cuba policy
    • Obviously prepared and speaks with immense confidence
      • Setting the agenda for the media, that’s what most press conferences are about
      • The agency just wants to explain it and tell the media the importance of the changes made, they want what they say to be on the front pages of the papers, relaying the information themselves rather than a third party that could give skewed information.
      • It is your job to “spotlight” the important information but the way the media distributes it is completely out of your control.
      • “Your message is nothing more than a news tip.” And that’s what a news tip does, it alerts you of something but it is completely up to the journalist to choose the importance of what you are saying.
      • Once you send your message out, that’s the extent of it. That’s all you can do, you can’t tell them to put it on the front page, it’s completely up to them.
      • Journalists are regular people, it is easier to communicate with people when you look like a normal person, not the sterotypical “perfect” norm of a well dressed “FoxNews” or “CNN” reporter.
      • Makes the conversation much easier if correspondents “dress down”
      • “How much of Journalism is performance? How much is genuine, grassroots, investigative, hard nosed reporting?”
    • Josh Earnest opens the floor to the press for questioning. First question revolves around the Cuban policy he spotlighted in the beginning. He responded with a lengthy answer and even provided a real life example.
    • The press secretary announced the policy, firmly planted in the text. When answering questions, he’s not bound to the text but more thinking on his feet. He’s still obviously thinking through all of his answers but is still speaking confidently and fluently.
    • Question: Donald Trump rally “Obama is a Muslim”
      • “I had the opportunity to think through what  my answer might be to this question.” Knows what’s going on around the world and is prepared to answer such a question, he is so prepared that he has written some of it down, he is consulting his notes to make sure he hits certain points. Refers back to other instances to relate the press to his answer. Very very prepared and ready to answer many forms of questions. Turned from comedic to policy issues to failures of republicans in congress. Paid off that he was prepared and looked at the bigger picture.
  • White House Correspondents Dinner “Washington Celebrating Itself”
    • All about the relationship between the press and the presidency.
    • Another kind of narrative, on the other side of the spectrum from the press brieifing.
    • Obama opens with a comedic video, audience is warm with his opening of jokes.
    • Very lighthearted but actually pretty funny jokes, including Michelle Obama and Joe Biden.
    • “Do you have a bucket list, Mr. President?” “No, but I have something that rhymes with a bucket list.” Really good reactions from the crowd.
    • Take executive action on immigration, “bucket.”
    • Cuba Policy, “The Castro Brothers” are here tonight
    • Refers to being “Muslim” “I have to do all this stuff but still pray 5 times a day.”- Refers back to press briefing about him being a Muslim
      • The audience is obviously on his side- he’s poking fun at himself, self-deprecation, embracing the critique of your enemies, everyone is on your side, even your enemies.
    • “Michelle hasn’t aged a day.”- What’s her secret? Fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s aggravating.
    • You can understand the words, but if you don’t understand the concept, then you’re not part of the message.  You wouldn’t know what he’s talking about. 
    • Uses the language of his enemies, “Some people are so dumb.”- works so well with the audience.
    • Dick Cheney joke, during the George W. Bush presidency, “I think he was the worst president of my lifetime!”
    • Mike Huckabee, “people shouldn’t join our military” Calling the senators “iatolla”, writing letters to the White House.
    • Michelle Bachman predicted I would bring about the biblical end, “now that’s legacy.”
    • I’ve got to put this aside, and stay focused on my job. Just a few weeks ago, (Hillary Clinton) making a few million dollars, now living out of a van in Iowa.
    • Secret Service is really focusing on keeping people off my lawn. A drone crash landed in my lawn, (picture of Joe Biden with a bat) new security system.
    • I tease Joe sometimes, not just a great vice president, but a great friend. Joke about Gay marriage in Indiana.
    • Joke at CNN, received coldly from audience.
    • TV show “Blackish”- being black only makes you popular for so long.
    • MSNBC joke not received well either.
    • Jeb Bush marked himself as Hispanic, I remember when I marked myself as American in 1961.
    • Ted Cruz joke- Galileo, Ted Cruz believes the earth revolves around Ted Cruz.
    • Rick Santorum joke- not attending gay marriages. No problem
    • Donald Trump is here, “still”.
    • My middle name is “Hussein” I needed to raise money, what’s their excuse?
    • Hillary’s email account addressed, I thought her private Instagram would get her in more trouble.
    • Bernie Sanders might run, voters really want to see a pot smoking journalist in the office- turns the joke on himself.
    • Often joke about tensions between me and the press.
    • Luther- my anger translator. Addressing many issues calmly while Luther freaked out.
    • Obama gets upset and Luther decides that he doesn’t need him anymore, he needs counseling.
    • Brings light to journalists- those who passed this year, those who were unjustly prisoned. 9 months in jail, in an effort to bridge our humanity. We will not rest until we bring him home to his family safe and sound. These journalists view their work as more than a job, I raise a glass to them and all of you. “It is not the fact of liberty, but the way liberty is exercised. Thank you for telling our American story.”

Homework: find two stories he addressed in his speech and find the very specific reference to what he was joking about.

Find 5 stories that covered the speech at the time, reflect on how those stories, pay close attention to which parts of the speech made the news stories. Journalists pick and choose bits and pieces from his commentary.


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