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Obama finds virtual end-around to bypass the White House press

Doesn’t sound like someone who is confident about what he’s done as President:

President Obama is finding ways to get his message to the public without going through the White House press corps.

Obama on Monday held his “first completely virtual interview” as part of an event hosted by Google+, the social network the president called “a newfangled thing.”

[…]Still, journalists have taken notice. After all, Obama hasn’t held a solo, long-form press conference at the White House since the beginning of October.

“I worry sometimes that the administration subverts the Wild West appeal of new media by rather scrupulously scrubbing and screening questions — like they have done in various new media town-hall settings,” said Julie Mason, a talk show host on Sirius-XM and veteran White House correspondent who also serves on the board of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

To be sure, Obama participated in two sit-down interviews last week — as part of his post-State of the Union swing through five battleground states — with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas. He also did a few television hits with local Telemundo stations.

But he hasn’t fielded a single question in a press conference setting in months.

Reporters Without Borders: U.S. & Argentina Tied for 47th in Press Freedom

Scandalous. 47th?:

Last week, Reporters Without Borders released its Press Freedom Index 2011-2012. Out of 179 countries, the Paris based organization ranked the United States tied for 47th place with Argentina and Romania. In fact, the United States fell from 27th place because of the arrest of reporters during the Occupy protests last fall:

The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists. In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance and even lack of accreditation.

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Treasury ups Auto Bailout Loss Estimate

The President made no mention of this during the State of the Union. This pokes a hole in the auto-is-back argument:

The U.S. Treasury Department boosted its estimate of government losses in the $85 billion auto bailout by $170 million.

In the government’s latest report to Congress this month, the Treasury upped its estimate to $23.77 billion, up from $23.6 billion.

Last fall, the government dramatically boosted its forecast of losses on the rescues of General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC and their finance units from $14 billion to $23.6 billion.

Much of the increase in losses is due to the sharp decline of GM’s stock price over the last six months.

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