Ann Compton on Obama: He Launches 'Profanity-Laced' Tirades Against Press

According to retired ABC News journalist Ann Compton, Barack Obama launches into "profanity-laced" tirades against the press in off-the-record meetings with reporters. In a C-SPAN interview, Compton also derided the President for leading "the most opaque" administration of "any I have covered." 

The journalist, who retired in August after a 40-year career, revealed to C-SPAN's Brian Lamb: "I have seen in the last year Barack Obama really angry twice. Both were off-the-record times. One, profanity-laced where he thought the press was making too much of scandals that he did not think were scandals." [MP3 audio here.]

She explained, "And I don't find him apologetic. But I find him willing to stand up to the press and look them in the eye, even though it was off the record and just give us hell." 

After Lamb wondered if the President had a point, she chided, "We cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don't take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they reap what they sow." 

Despite Obama's apparent rage against the press, he hasn't had much to complain about. The Media Research Center documented how journalists covered-up his failures and scandals. 

Earlier in the hour-long C-SPAN interview, which aired on Sunday night, but was recorded in October, Compton slammed the "opaque" administration: 

ANN COMPTON: Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday. He is far less accessible on photo-ops with meetings. Even some meetings on the record, meeting in the Roosevelt room with financial leaders from, from Wall Street or on issues with environmental groups, or with issues with environmental groups, with public opinion leaders, I think most presidents have been far more forthcoming than the second Obama term, in terms of what the President is doing every day and we almost never get photo-ops. 

She added that it's fine for the White House to take its own photographs, but "those same elements should not be blocked from the White House press corps." 

Interestingly, on Compton's last day in August, the President called on her for a final question. She chose to ask about the police shooting in Ferguson, not the concerns she expressed to C-SPAN. 

(H/T to Heritage's Mike Gonzalez for first noticing Compton's comments and tweeting about them.) 

A partial transcript of the October 30 segment is below: 

C-SPAN

38:05 in: 

ANN COMPTON: Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday. He is far less accessible on photo-ops with meetings. Even some meetings on the record, meeting in the Roosevelt room with financial leaders from, from Wall Street or on issues with environmental groups, or with issues with environmental groups, with public opinion leaders, I think most presidents have been far more forthcoming than the second Obama term, in terms of what the President is doing every day and we almost never get photo-ops. 

I think I went through a time of three or four months where I was never in the Oval Office once on my pool day. Part of this may be that the President feels a little bit on the ropes. His job approval rating is down to 40 percent consistently for the last couple of years since his reelection. He also has his own tools. He is the first president with his own journalistic tools. They've all had photographers. He has his own videographers. He has a newscast on Friday mornings on WhiteHouse.gov. It is anchored by his former deputy, now press secretary, Josh Earnest. I think it is fine if the President of the United States wants to present his own version of what he did all week. Most of it is behind the scenes shots of him with Supreme Court justices and leaders coming in from Wall Street. It is fine that he puts it on the internet and that everybody can see it. Those same elements should not be blocked from the White House press corps. 

54 minutes in

[Recounting her experiences dealing with presidents.]

COMPTON: Every president is a human being as well as a president. And I'm often asked for favorite moments. Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. George Herbert Walker Bush goes to Camp David and convenes his war cabinet, comes back tot he White House. He stops in front of my camera and says, the Arab world is united against Saddam Hussein. I blurt out, "Mr. President, Arab leaders like King Hussein have flown to Baghdad and embraced him. President Bush barked at me and said, "I can read. What's your question?" The next day, before  before he sends American troops to the war, he writes me a letter, saying, he was not pleased with his answers to me. below his signature, GB, is initials, he drew a happy face wearing a frown. Imagine the president of the United States taking a moment in history like that to apologize to the press.
...

55:50

LAMB: So, off of that experience, how many other presidents were that aware of what they said to you and how many just did not pay attention at all and you had no personal reaction from them? 

COMPTON: I think most presidents realize – had a personal connection. I don't think they ever -- we were ever in a confrontation-type moment where they felt the need to apologize. I have seen in the last year Barack Obama really angry twice. Both were off-the-record times. One, profanity-laced where he thought the press was making too much of scandals that he did not think were scandals. Another where he took us to task for not understanding the limits he has with foreign policy and the way he's dealing with the Middle East and Iraq, and Afghanistan. And I don't find him apologetic. But I find him willing to stand up to the press and look them in the eye, even though it was off the record and just give us hell. 

LAMB: Does he have a point? 

COMPTON: From his point of view, he may. But we cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don't take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they get -- they reap what they sow.

 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.