December 19th, 2014
08:36 PM ET

Obama calls on only women during press conference

(CNN) - President Barack Obama took eight questions during his Friday press conference — and all of them from women journalists.

It was an unusual and deliberate move, considering the White House press corps has been historically dominated by men. Indeed, the first woman to cover the president, United Press International journalist Helen Thomas, didn't join their ranks until 1960.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that the White house realized it had an opportunity to highlight the number of women who cover the White House as it compiled the list of reporters for Obama to call on.

"The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the President of the United States," Earnest said.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Media • News • Politics
February 27th, 2014
09:36 PM ET

Pres. Obama announces 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative to help young minority men

(CNN) – In a moving and honest message Thursday, President Barack Obama challenged young minority men to make good choices.

"Part of our message in this initiative is 'no excuses'. Government and private sector and philanthropy and all the faith communities, we have the responsibility to provide you the tools you need," he said at a White House event.

"We need to help you knock down some of the barriers that you experience," he continued. "That's what we are here for but you have responsibilities too."

The message was part of his new initiative called "My Brother's Keeper," where leading foundations and businesses will donate at least $200 million over five years towards programs aimed at minority youth of color.

Transcript: Obama announces 'My Brother's Keeper'

"This is as important as any issue that I work on. It's an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for President because if America stands for anything, it stands for the opportunity for everybody – the notion of no matter who you are or where you came from of the circumstances under which you were born – if you work hard, if you take responsibility then you can make it in this country," he said.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • News • Politics
February 7th, 2014
08:56 PM ET

Pay-to-Play ambassadors? Nominee for Amb. to Argentina never been to country

The Obama Administration facing tough questions about rewarding big donors with plush ambassadorships.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was questioned by reporters as to why donors to President Obama's campaign were nominated for ambassadorships.

KARL: How much does it cost to become an ambassador, to be named ambassador, in the Obama administration? (Laughter.)
PSAKI: Jonathan Karl, always a TV question. We don't determine –
KARL: Well, it's serious because –
PSAKI: I'm not – I'm not – it is a serious question. We don't name ambassadors from the State Department. The White House names ambassadors, so I would certainly point you to my old colleagues across the street for that.

Her "old colleagues across the street" work at the White House. And these appointees are appointees chosen directly by the President of the United States.

White House spokesman Jay Carney didn't have a press conference on Friday to answer the questions, but the questions are serious, because some of the political picks to represent the United States overseas are questionable.

The President's nominee to be Ambassador to Argentina, Noah Bryson Mamet raised $500,000 for President Barack Obama and the Democrats, according to the New York Times.

He testified before Congress and got tripped up on what should have been an easy question: have you ever been to Argentina?

"I haven't had the opportunity yet to be there," Mamet told Congress. "I've traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven't yet had a chance."

This "pay-to-play"-style diplomacy isn't new.

But President Obama is picking more political appointees than any of his recent predecessors, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.

Not all of Obama's political appointees end up being big donors, but many are.

Crony capitalism isn't a good word. Should crony diplomacy be, either?

Democratic Strategist Chris Kofinis and Republican Strategist Terry Holt are OutFront.

Filed under: Barack Obama • News • Politics
January 20th, 2014
08:42 PM ET

President Obama: Pot "no more dangerous than alcohol"

In an interview with the New Yorker, President Barack Obama declared marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.

Obama says marijuana ‘no more dangerous than alcohol’

"...I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," Obama said.

So why is the President wading into the controversial politics of pot?

OutFront: Editor-in-Chief of Reason-dot come Nick Gillespie and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Marijuana • News • Politics