Meet the press

Obama’s first formal press conference will be tonight, and we expect many more.

Just two days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the White House briefing room for an uncommonly close encounter with the White House press corps. It took less than five minutes for a reporter to breach ObamaâÄôs requests for cordiality, to which the president intoned, âÄúI canâÄôt end up visiting you guys if every time I come down here I get grilled.âÄù That first meeting might have been an aggravating sign for Obama that his relationship with the press will inevitably be a contentious one. But if what Jen Psaki, an Obama transition team spokesperson, said about the new administration being âÄúone of the most open and transparent press offices in White House history,âÄù is true, then Obama must realize that relationship to be mutually-beneficial and one of respect. That, of course, was never the case with the opaque Bush administration, which generally treated any critical media outlet as traitors. That attitude must still be felt by Washington reporters, and Obama must extend a hand. Pushing through federal shield law legislation, for instance, would undoubtedly demonstrate what Obama realizes as the importance of the fourth estate. So far, though, signs are positive. ObamaâÄôs first press conference tonight will be held 13 days before BushâÄôs first formal conference during his second term and eight months earlier than BushâÄôs first. He met with the Washington PostâÄôs often-critical editorial board and recently penned a column for that paper. Obama, by all means, should continue to embrace new technology to get out his message, as he did skillfully on the campaign trail. But he should also continue to put that message up to proper inspection.