FOX News not happy with Obama's press conference

President Barack Obama faces the media as he addresses his first news conference as president in the East Room of the White House on Monday night. A FOX News editor blasted Obama for seating a liberal radio talk show host in the front row and for selecting Huffington Post blogger Sam Stein to ask a question.

In the immortal words of the philosophical foursome Van Halen, "Change, ain't nothin' stays the same."

And ain't nothin' stayin' the same was on display last night at President Obama's first prime time news conference. And this is upsetting FOX News Channel's Bill Sammon.

Showcasing the left

The Deputy Managing Editor penned a column today criticizing President Obama for calling on a Huffington Post blogger, placing longtime Washington correspondent Helen Thomas back in the front row, and seating a liberal radio show host next to her.

"Clearly, President Obama was making a point of showing deference to the Left," Sammon writes.


The fact that Obama took a question from a blogger is noteworthy. This hasn't happened before.

What's not noteworthy, though, is when a president doesn't want to answer a question, he doesn't have to. And he didn't.

The Huffington Post's Sam Stein asked, "Are you willing to rule out — right here and now — any prosecution of Bush administration officials?"

Obama said he would look at a proposal that calls for an investigation of the prior administration, "but my general orientation is to say, let's get it right moving forward."

Nice seats

As for the radio host, it was the placement of syndicated radio host Ed Schultz - the front row - that seemed to rankle Sammon.

Longtime members of the White House press corps who are accustomed to sitting in the front row of presidential press conferences were surprised to find their prime real estate occupied by Ed Schulz, a strident liberal who hosts a nationally syndicated radio program originally based in Fargo, N.D., but of late broadcasting from the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

During last year's presidential campaign, Schultz warmed up the audience for Obama at a Democratic fundraiser in Fargo by denouncing Republican opponent John McCain as a "warmonger." When Obama took the podium, he thanked Schulz and called him "the voice of progressive radio," although the campaign was later pressured into distancing itself from Schultz's inflammatory remarks.


Others in the media took note of Schultz' seating arrangement as well. Politico's Jonathan Martin asked Schultz if he was sitting in an assigned seat. This led Schultz to rip into Martin today during his radio show, according to Martin's colleague Michael Calderone.

Liberal radio host Ed Schultz kicked off his show today by addressing a Politico item from last night.
"I end up with a front row seat in the first prime-time press conference, and all of a sudden it's all over the blogosphere," Schultz said.
Schultz called Politico's Jonathan Martin a "punk" and a "nitwit" for asking if it was an assigned seat.
"I have earned that seat," the veteran radio host said on the air.

Front row

Although Schultz wasn't called on, his mere presence in the front row is meaningful.

"[President Bush] certainly never allowed right-wing radio hosts to sit in the front row," Sammon writes.

That is true. Perhaps, in the spirit of post-partisanship, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh will be asked to attend the next prime-time presidential news conference.

After all, he's got another one coming up next week. And like we said yesterday, if he keeps up this schedule, Obama will be a legitimate TV series.

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