No questions at Obama-Rousseff 'news conference'
March 19th, 2011
09:25 AM ET

No questions at Obama-Rousseff 'news conference'

BRASILIA, Brazil (CNN) - After recent tension over President Obama breaking with tradition by hosting world leaders at the White House but not taking any questions from the media during those sessions, administration officials were eager to boast that he would be holding several news conferences on his three-nation trip to Latin America.

"So I'd just note for your planning purposes, we'll be having three press conferences with each of the leaders," said Ben Rhodes, the White House's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications. "So there will be that opportunity."

Well actually that opportunity has already started to close on Day One of Obama's trip.
Obama's "press conference" with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was abruptly shrunken down to just statements from each leader and no questions from American and Brazilian reporters, though U.S. officials have been quick to point out that they wanted questions from the media but the Brazilian side blocked it.

A press officer for Brazil's foreign ministry told a U.S. pool reporter that it was indeed Rousseff who pulled back on allowing a full-fledged news conference.

"It's not her way," the press officer said of Rousseff, Brazil's first female president. "She didn't do it with the prime minister of East Timor either."

Of course, a visit from the U.S. president usually carries a little more cache and reporters from both countries are itching to ask Obama and Rousseff about anticipated military action in Libya, which could come as early as this weekend while Obama is on Brazilian soil.

The Obama administration helped to lead the coalition of nations that approved a United Nations Security Council resolution, by a 10-0 margin, on Thursday authorizing a no-fly zone and other possible military action to stop Moammar Gadhafi from continuing to attack civilians in his own country.

Brazil, which is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, was one of five nations that chose to abstain from the vote. While Brazilian officials said they did not want that decision to give the impression they condone Gadhafi's actions, Rousseff's administration has concerns that the scope of the resolution is too wide and could end up backfiring.

While Obama and Rousseff could address the situation in Libya in their prepared remarks, the lack of questions from the media prevents either leader from being pressed on the ramifications of the potential military action as well as any potential divisions between the U.S. and Brazil on the matter.

U.S. officials have privately said they wanted questions during the session with Rousseff and are working right up until the meeting to try and get that changed. Obama is also still planning to take questions at joint news conferences with the leaders of Chile and El Salvador during the five-day trip.

During the Libyan crisis, Obama has recently hosted several leaders at the White House without taking questions from the media. A meeting that Obama had with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was closed completely to the media. He also held talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the leaders only made statements to the press, refusing to take questions.

This is a break with recent tradition because then-President Clinton used to do so-called "three and threes" when he was hosting a world leader at the White House, which meant that each leader would take three questions from each country's press corps.

That access shrunk a little when then-President Bush followed Clinton into the White House with "two and twos" in which he and a visiting leader would take two questions from each side's media horde.

Obama has shrunk that access even further by conducting some "one and ones" with world leaders, as well as the meetings that have included no questions - basically what could become known as a "zero and zero."

White House officials, however, note that Obama has been accessible to reporters in other forums. For example, he held two news conferences on his own at the White House in recent weeks.

Topics: Brazil • Libya • President Obama

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soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginia

    No questions at Obama-Rousseff news conference
    But can we BLAME President Obama, for instance??
    NO, there is another President that’s a different fighter
    "It's not her way," – she didn’t do it with others either!!!

    Now let’s see how the critics and pundits spin
    This debacle that they were put in
    With their mics in hand do you think they really understand?
    NO –they will still blame President Obama even though he’s on foreign land!!!

    Let's support our current leader, President Obama, as he continues to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD and the WORLD in a positive direction!!!

    March 19, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  2. Gaylon Barrow

    All our soldiers who have died for this country have died in vain. That's a heck of a thing to say. But, after spending 30 years in the Army Infantry an two tours in Vietnam that the American people caused our defeat and then Desert Shield where they thought we were heroes have come to the Present situation. Now we have a President that will not react in time to stop the wholesale slaughter that is going on at this moment in Libya. Thanks again Obama for the dead. Over 2000 Americans fell on 9/11 how many will fall in Libya, but to hear his supporters and now the people as a whole it's like it never happened. What our soldiers have done for this Country should be honored but as most of Obamas say , "The Birthers", this is just more of their ideals. Whatever the words,, "The Birthers" stand for. Yes I am ashamed of this country for we have fought wars we should have never been in. But if this country calls upon you to fight then fight we must. And we must do it with honor not for our people who are non-fighters start yelling bring the troops home. WHEN THIS FLAG WENT UP IN LIBYA IMMEDIATELY WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THERE AND GOT RID OF A MAN AND REGINE THAT WOULD DESTROY THE U.S. IT MAKES ME WONDER AS I'VE SAID BEFORE BY OBAMA'S ACTIONS HE IS WORKING AS HARD AS HE CAN FOR THE DEMISE OF THE AMERICANS.

    March 19, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • JOANN seems that WAR is the only answer??? THE UNITED STATES IS NOT THE WORLD'S POLICE.....

      March 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

      Obama rocks dude........The mad dog in libya's days of rule are coming to an end.....while commentators, some senators and regular opinion makers wring their hands and complain, this President has goten a resolution at the U.N. which permits action against the Ghadafi regimes......There will be action and retribution.......And if the mad dog doesn't run for the hills or kill himself, he Will be tried as a war criminal.

      March 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
      • FIELD1stSGT

        You're are just another stupid fool who thinks Obama only needs permission from the UN. Anyone with smarts knows the President must have permission of the Congress. The only exception being if theU.S. IS BEING ATTACKED CAN A SITTING PRESIDENT GO TO WAR. PLEASE TAKE THE FOOL OBAMA WITH YOUR STUPID PERSON AND GO BACK TO THE COTTON FIELDS. YOU HAVE NOT THE GUMPTION TO RUN A NATION SUCH AS THE U.S.

        November 25, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Tony

      you are still smiling blood.

      March 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • M Dasneves

      With all due respect to you as a vet but have to as this question: "have you taken your meds today?" Your rambling giiberish makes no sense! With all due respect.

      March 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  3. Stand4truth

    Gayllon, you neglected to mention the Republican Party and their dirty deeds and the lies to even got us in this mess in the first place. Convenient lapse of memory. It is Obama that has fought to make sure Veterans received their rights, the Republicans did not want to support those efforts because they do not like him. So, get the full picture before you start passing judgment on anyone. America can not police the world and always kill others just for the sport of it. These countries have a right to govern themselves, end of story.

    March 19, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  4. Gaylon

    Gaylon Barrow . First of all as a fellow veteran who fought in Desert Shield . You sound like a fool . President Obama believe it or not is one of the wises President we have had in a long time . I know that people over there are dying . But hey as a soldier you should know there's going to be casualties of war in any conflict . Have you forgotten we are already fighting 2 wars right now in Iraq & Afganistan . Instead of starting a war with Libya he's taking the U.N route . Which we should have done with Iraq . He said he would help over throw Ghadfi if other nations get involved . But what he doesn't want is an American life lost because some group over there starts an uprising with their own country . We rushed into Iraq with 4000 lives lost and still have no stability over there . If you so gunho put back on your uniform , catch a flight over there and lead the oppostion on to victory . But i don't want to see any young soldier dying for some people who once they gets control from Ghadfi will be stabbing us in the back in about 6mths .

    March 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • FIELD1stSGT


      November 26, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  5. Sue

    Really, you can understand why Obozo never wants to take questions. That would mean that the teleprompter would have to be loaded with every possible question response. If you want to get a real laugh, go to You Tube and do a search for Obama talking without the teleprompter. You will then easily see why Obozo never wants to take any questions. What is that saying--"It is better for people to think that you are a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt".

    March 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

      Sur you're a hater in the first degree......every President has used either written notes, or (since the 80's) a teleprompter. This President is smart. In fact if I can help it he'll be our President until 2016.

      March 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Stand4truth

      Your hatred is showing, not nice to air it in public.

      March 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  6. Sue

    Better yet.......Obama should just draw a face on his butt. Then he will have an excuse for when he talks out of his a*s.

    March 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Bob in Pa

    Of couse Bo would answer questions in another country. He hates America, it's freedoms, and it's free ideas.
    Now he takes credit for protecting Libya people, while no American plane or soldiers directly involved. He pats himself on the back generously.

    Bo the Paper Tiger that roared "MEOW!'

    March 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Liz Carter in Georgia

    I don't understand what you people want! The PRESIDENT's still trying to keep the focus on lining up jobs for AMERICANS, as he waits for the SECRETARY OF STATE, HILLARY CLINTON, who's diplomatically working with the UNITED NATIONS to be sure the next steps we take towards the LIBYAN CRISIS are truly within the boundaries of international law! He's smart not to handle the situations in LIBYA or EGYPT in the reckless way BUSH handled IRAQ! That's what you all want; so you can scream, 'BUSH ALL OVER AGAIN'!

    March 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  9. Sue

    Did you all hear the latest news about Hillary's resignation? Her aides have now come out publicly, and said that Hillary is resigning due to Obama' incompetence in regard to foreign issues, particularly Libya.-Her aides said that Hillary is exhausted/angered by Obama's incompetence, and they do not even know if she will finish her current term in office before resigning. Why aren't you writing an article about this CNN?

    March 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Mr. President while you're away Sarah and Todd Palin are committing treason while in India.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Phoenix86

      Obama committed treason when he declared last week that he would not enforce nor defend the laws of the United States get your facts straight and stay out of that Texas heat, which is obviously damaging your power of reasoning.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  11. Liz Carter in Georgia

    OBAMA and ROUSSEF only made a statement to the press! They both evidently decided that it would just be a welcoming, an acceptance and a greeting. They talked about the reasoning for their meeting; the opening up of opportunities for AMERICANS, and BRAZILIANS; enterprising, spurring jobs for us all. That he touched on the situation in LIBYA was enough for now! What do you want? You want him to answer too soon; TODAY, and the thing changes tonight, so you can jump out here squealing OBAMA said this or that!

    March 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  12. Sue

    I am sorry, but even Hillary and Bill are releasing statements publicly (through their aides)-–about the incompetence and cluelessness of Obama. Hillary released statements regarding Libya, and Bill released statements about Obama being the blame for the rising gas prices.-–And, Obozo was not worried about jobs for 2-1/2 years-why worry about them now?-And, the Brazil vacation is going to do NOTHING in regard to job creation.

    March 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Liz Carter in Georgia

    I can remember very well your 'president' BUSH often not answering question from the press. When he did, he already knew what questions were going to be asked and from whom! I remember one question was being asked by a reporter and it looked like they turned the mic off! He told the reporter he'd get back to him. So don't sit up here and act like OBAMA's THE FIRST one who decides when and when not to answer media questions. Furthermore, he DOESN'T have to PUPPETIZE any other previous president in doing it!

    March 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Phoenix86

      Obama didn't answer any questions because his TelePrompTer couldn't translate the portuguese.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Sue, PRES OBAMA has answered many questions during his campaign and since he's been PRESIDENT! The man does not mind answering questions, but he has the good sense to try to make sure he's answering them correctly and his answers are current and hadn't become obsolete! He knows you, your fellow-OBAMA-haters, and the media are busy playing a perpetual game of 'GOTCHA' with him! You all try to PAINT him as 'a stupid bozo', but he is far from stupid, OK? That's your problems! You all just WISH that he was!

    March 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Phoenix86

      Obama is as far from stupid as white from rice. He is the most "intellectually challenged" President we have ever had

      March 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
      • Melody

        President Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law and you think he's the most "intellectually challenged" US president ever?? LOL

        Please quit while you're ahead – you're embarassing yourself.

        March 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  15. Sue

    Obama is weak, clueless, and incompetent. Obama makes Carter look like Einstein. Obama is ONE AND DONE!! He will never be reelected. The campaign slogans for 2012 are going to be "ANYONE BUT OBAMA".

    March 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  16. Phoenix86

    Dilma met with Obama, realized that he is an inept pansy, and didn't want to embarrass herself by being associated with such a political neophyte

    March 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  17. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Hey, if it's the truth, Sue, no I have not heard it. I'm away from my house and TV cablenews, typing on a hand-held device. But if it's the truth, she is doing a terrible, terrible thing. If CONDOLEEZA RICE could put up, take up and run here and there for the BUSH/CHENEY crap for all those years, I know d–m well HILLARY CLINTON has no right to do PRES OBAMA that way. However, I wouldn't be surprised because I knew all along BILL hated OBAMA, and they'd chance dividing the party than have OBAMA win AGAIN!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  18. Sue

    Liz in Georgia:

    Yes, it is true about Hillary saying Obama is incompetent. This might cause Obama problems in regard to fund raising. Here is the link for the article And, here is the article where Bill blames Obama for the rising gas prices.--­-permit-delays-at-forum/

    March 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  19. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Frankly, Sue, I'm a GA PEACH, I always did think FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER was an 'EINSTEIN' as PRESIDENT of THE UNITED STATES! You disrespectful people were the ones always putting him down! He was too straightforward and played WASHINGN by the BOOK. He couldn't be bought by the theives in DC! You all are the same repubated mindsets that are putting down this PRESIDENT! He is following to the best of his ability to walk in the footsteps of the 'unboughtness' as JIMMY CARTER! EVIL has always hated GOOD!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  20. Sue

    Liz in Georgia:

    March 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  21. Sue

    Liz in Georgia:

    Of course Hillary is going to speak out through her aides about Obama's incompetence. She wants voters to realize that it is HIS incompetence, not hers.

    And, you do not know why the majority recognize Carter as being clueless and weak?--Do some research on the gas shortage while Carter was in office--gas lines, even plate numbers get to get gas on certain days, odd plate numbers got to get gas on other days.-–And, do research on the Iran hostage crisis.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  22. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Sue; what incompetence? He left her to do her job as SECRETARY of STATE! Isn't that what every presidents' SECRETARY of STATE does? She goes to sit down with national leaders and try to negotiate decisions that affect both us and/or them, hoping to come to some simulance of a compromise. She reports her findings to the president and then they BOTH decide! The secretary of state is also the one who reads the ultimate resolutional decision through the UN, to the world as to what action has been decided upon!

    March 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Barry is not the leader of the free word he is the lap dog of the UN. The blood of African children is on his hands.

      March 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  23. Liz Carter in Georgia

    CNN reported one day about 2 weeks ago, that she said she may step down after the end of PRES OBAMAS' first term! She didn't exactly say why when she was talking about it, but I thought she was tired and just getting old; and after the wikileaks release, I imagined she may want to get out while she was still in some kind of fair standing! However, the rest of your comment about BILL and what her aides are saying is just a devious case of backstabbing, sabotaging, and undermining from the CLINTONS! INTERNET?

    March 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  24. Liz Carte in Georgia

    People with an agenda can write their own personal or desired 'facts' in the internet to achieve a desired perception. Isn't that what we're doing? The computer can be used for good and evil! When it first came out years ago, I said to myself this is going to be one of the END TIME BEASTS! If Hillary is backbiting OBAMA, she is going to have to answer to the TRUE MESSIAH for it, as will her cheating husband and everyone who has been instrumental in pulling this GOD-SENT man down!

    March 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  25. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, I hate to even dignify that ignorant remark with a response, but I guess I will with a few questions. First, why are you so hateful? If PRES OBAMA is a 'lap dog' of the UN, then what is SEC CLINTON and AMB RICE? Lap b*+(#@$? What is DEF SEC GATES and GEN W CLARK? Great Britains CAMERON and French PRES KASORSKY? Lap puppies? See what's happening to Gadhafi for not being a 'lap dog' of the UN; He and your 'President' believe they're above being 'lap dogs' of the United Nations! It's accountability Time!

    March 19, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Barry's a good boy, he does what the UN says.

      March 20, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  26. Gaylon Barrow

    Who wants to listen to his lies and the selling out of America.

    March 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  27. Liz Carter in Georgia

    BTW, Who's AMERICAN hand is the unrecompensed, unrequited blood on, of AFRICAN MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN, who still try to live here in AMERICA? Who's hand has literally pushed, pulled and pointed us offcourse of our true lifes' destinys, by any treacherous word or deed? The majority of us were raped, dragged, hung, and killed long ago! Some of us lived, but are still bleeding! BTW, I've never read, saw nor heard anything about one country coming over to help us out from under the BIG HAND of the WHITE MAN!

    March 20, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Jay in NC

      Big hand of the white man? What are you talking about? This is black on black violence. Barry killing Africans.

      March 20, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  28. Liz Carter in Georgia

    You know exactly what I'm talking about. You don't care one bit about AFRICANS; here or there! Your whole thing is aimed at continuing you campaign against BARACK OBAMA, period! You're trying to put out your stupid perception, to the not-so-informed, but genuinely concerned about events going on in the MIDDLE EAST 'watchers', a negative outlook of the PRESIDENTS handling of those situations! He did it EXACTLY right! No matter what YOU or any other hater says, he abided by the rule of international law!

    March 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  29. Jay in NC

    We agree, Barry abides by the UN's orders. He is their boy. Our country has been demoted from world leader to clean up on isle #4, baby spit up in the can goods section. Barry get your mop, that is all your supporters think you are good for, clean up. They think that you are not capable of make decisions. You have to get permission from the name tag people at the UN.

    March 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  30. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Black on black crime? If that was the least bit true, you know you don't care! None of you 'good old boys' care. You sit up and watch that happen right here in AMERICA everyday; and most of it is over the white mans' drugs and guns! 'We'll just sit back make our money and let them just kill each other off'! 'That'll just be one less N we have to deal with'! That's what most evil, greedy white men and illiterate poor whites care about black on black crime! So don't go FAKING and acting like you care now!

    March 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  31. Liz Carter in Georgia

    The WORLD and I can accept that 'Barry is a good boy, he does what the UN says'; and as he should have! Yep! There's a big difference between 'a good boy' and a 'good OLD boy', now isn't it?

    March 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  32. Liz Carter in Georgia

    I sure most intelligent, lawful and politically savvy people of this nation, would rather have the PRESIDENT OBAMA, who genuinely wants to be sure to do the RIGHT thing as a 'BOY', than one who rambunctiously wanted to do the WRONG thing as a 'COWBOY'. Your COWBOY BUSH was no better than GADHAFI! He defied UN LAW! He may not have shot us down in AMERICAN streets, but he shot us down in SPIRIT and moreover, in our POCKETBOOKS!

    March 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm |