Whom does Obama read? Ezra Klein, Taylor Branch, Bill Simmons.
President Obama escapes his White House bubble by reading widely on the web, sometimes late at night, following links like the rest of us, says senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.
President Obama doesnâ€™t wait for a stack of clips to show up on his desk before he starts catching up on the news. Like many Americans, heâ€™s on his iPad, grazing around the web, sometimes into the wee hours, following links, finding interesting blogs and longer-form pieces that go beyond â€śthe issues of the moment,â€ť Â says senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.
â€śHe was struck by it,â€ť said Mr. Pfeiffer, speaking at a Politico â€śPlaybookâ€ť breakfast Wednesday, noting that sometimes the president recommends articles to staff, instead of the other way around.
For a man who came into the presidency worried about getting trapped inside the White House â€śbubble,â€ť Mr. Obama has clearly found his portal into the outside world through technology. Besides his iPad, he still has his trusty â€śbionicâ€ť BlackBerry.
Obama is also a big fan of Washington Post wunderkind Ezra Klein, who writes â€śWonkbook.â€ť Â Itâ€™s â€śa smart look at politics and policy,â€ť says Pfeiffer, who was White House communications director before ascending in the second term to senior adviser. â€śIt takes serious things seriously.â€ť
As with the Taylor Branch piece, Obamaâ€™s status as a sports super-fan is reflected widely in his reading habits. â€ś[He] likes to get away from day-to-day politics [with] ... ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, magazines like that,â€ť says Pfeiffer. â€śYou need a break.â€ť
On the issue of the presidentâ€™s reputed lack of enthusiasm for press conferences, Pfeiffer pushed back â€“ sort of. Obama likes â€śgood, smart reporters who ask good questions,â€ť he said.
Pfeiffer also rejected the idea that Obama cherry picks his interviewers, favoring TV personalities he and his staff think will go easy on him. Â
"There is no such thing as a softball interview," said Pfeiffer, who points out that thereâ€™s no way to know in advance what the president will be asked. In one â€śTonight Showâ€ť appearance, Jay Leno asked about the financial crisis, Syria, housing, and Afghanistan, Pfeiffer notes. And in an interview on â€śThe Daily Showâ€ť in February, Jon Stewart drilled down on drone policy.
â€śWeâ€™re going to do interviews with everyone, from Jon Stewart to 'Sixty Minutes' Â to Bill Simmonsâ€™ podcast and everything in between,â€ť Pfeiffer says.
Still, he didnâ€™t offer much comfort to print reporters who would love to have a sit-down with Obama.
â€śWe pick our interviews based on â€¦ reach,â€ť he says. â€śItâ€™s not just the total audience, itâ€™s the platform. Itâ€™s whether we think itâ€™s going to have buzz.â€ť
The only print outlet to land an interview with Obama lately is The New Republic. But that came about through a personal connection: TNRâ€™s new owner is Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who coordinated online organizing for Obamaâ€™s 2008 presidential campaign.