A 16-member commission of journalists and academics, the third panel in 14 years to tackle the topic, called today for reviving the presidential press conference and making it a “frequent, routine and undramatic” institution.
“The longer Presidents go without a press conference, the greater the suspicion that there is something to hide, and the greater the pressure becomes for holding press conferences,” the panel said.
“When, ultimately, the President holds a conference, it is liable to be a hostile affair in which both the President and the press look bad. It would seem better, on balance, for the President to take his lumps on a more frequent basis.”
At the same time, the Harvard Commission on the Presidential News Conference said, the media must mend their ways if the press conference is to be revived. The public won’t pay attention to the sessions if it believes that reporters’ questions are unfair, irrelevant or overly aggressive, it concluded.