November 2nd, 2011
10:09 AM ET
Imagine having behind the scenes access to the White House, the president and his cabinet and all of it, on camera. For a TV reporter that might be just a dream. But the Obama administration is using that carrot to try to take its message, particularly on pressing for passage of the president's jobs program, directly to voters–in their living rooms. This week the White House opened its doors to nine television anchormen and women from local markets key to the president's agenda or his re-election in 2012.
"There are Americans all around the country in the many, many millions who get their news primarily through local television, local affiliates," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "And the president's very interested in communicating with them and telling them what he's doing here."
A special area was set up on the South Lawn for the media blitz. The local anchors interviewed members of the cabinet including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan –all talking about the importance of passing the president's jobs bill.
After defeat of his $447 billion jobs bill in Congress the president has crisscrossed the country to press his case to voters and appeal for passage of key parts of the legislation.
Amelia Santaniello from Minneapolis TV station WCCO asked Carney at Tuesday's White House briefing why the president is issuing so many executive orders lately to circumvent Congress. "Why did he wait until now to do this?" she asked.
"He has stepped up this precisely because there is an urgent need to take action on the economy and jobs," said Carney.
Santaniello and her colleagues know full well how the media is being used in this push by the White House.
"We come in here and we know that this is what the whole agenda is to get his jobs program information out there to his constituents," she told CNN.
It's the message President Obama has taken on the road to promote as in his latest bus tour inVirginialast month.
"Tell these members of Congress they're supposed to be working for you!” he implored a crowd inEmporia,Virginia.
So perhaps it is no surprise that the president did an interview with a television station inNebraska. That's the home state of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). He is a Democrat opposed to tax increases in the president's jobs plan.
"That's the first thing I thought about," KETV anchor Rob McCartney told CNN. "I kid you not. When they said 'hey do you want to go interview the president' I said absolutely, and then I followed up with 'is this to get Ben Nelson on board?'" he chuckled.