President Barack Obama ended his final press conference of the year by giving reporters something to talk about. He answered eight questions, from eight female reporters.
Though the president did not announce that he’d be calling solely on women, the move seemed deliberate as he passed over the typically attention-grabbing front row of mostly network TV correspondents to hear from Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown, Cheryl Bolen of Bloomberg, Julie Pace with the Associated Press, Lesley Clark from McClatchy, Reuters Roberta Rampton, the Wall Street Journal’s Colleen McCain Nelson and Juliet Eilperin with the Washington Post.
As the press conference came to a close, a male reporter asked about the president’s New Year’s resolutions. Obama ignored him and called on April Ryan from American Urban Radio, who had a question about race relations.
The historic significance of Obama’s ladies-only round of questioning is evidenced by the excitement and buzz it generated on Twitter before the press conference had even ended.
“See how newsy press conferences can be when women ask the questions?” PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill tweeted. The questions hit at topics such as North Korea’s involvement in the cyberhack on Sony PIctures and the U.S. decision to rekindle its relationship with Cuba.
“Last question says the president. Every journalist he called on in this press conference was a woman. Mom is somewhere smiling,” tweeted CBS political director John Dickerson.
C-SPAN tweeted a composite screen grab of the reporters who got to ask questions.
While ThinkProgress editor Igor Volsky captured the disappointed faces of passed over male reporters in the front row.
Male reporters in the front row react to the last question going to another woman reporter/not them: pic.twitter.com/DHDQSApbev— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) December 19, 2014
Obama may not have stated explicitly that he’d be skipping over male reporters, but he did start out the press conference by noting that he’d be consulting his “naughty or nice” list when it came time for questions.
Following the press conference, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed that Obama had focused on female reporters who did not work for the major TV networks. Earnest said all of the networks have gotten to ask the president at least two questions since November, some of them have had exclusives, and they were notified ahead of Friday’s press conference that they wouldn’t be called on.
"The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the president of the United States,” Earnest said. “As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the president’s closely watched end-of-the-year news conference."