Obama speaking to media Friday

TV exec says campaign downplaying news conference

NEW YORK -- For the first time being elected Tuesday night, President-elect Barack Obama will hold a news conference Friday afternoon that will likely get wide exposure on TV.

Details are still being worked out for what the Obama campaign is calling a "press availability" and not even a news conference somewhere in Chicago at 2:30 p.m. ET Friday. CBS and ABC confirmed they would carry the address. So, presumably, would NBC and MSNBC. Fox News Channel and CNN said earlier Thursday that they would as well.

The networks on Thursday were trying to figure out whether that meant a full-blown news conference, with seats for the reporters and a podium and live video, or something less than that. Obama has yet to appear in any interviews on TV, being so busy with the transition. Nor has his election opponent, John McCain. Sarah Palin answered questions from reporters Wednesday before returning to Alaska.

A TV executive said that the Obama campaign was trying to play it down by not calling it a news conference.

"The first time he (Obama) steps in front of a camera, that's not just a press availability," the executive said. "No matter what they're calling it, it's likely to get a lot of attention." The campaign might be trying to play it down because there might not be a lot of solid answers to many of the questions the media will have for Obama.

There's not a lot of precedent in recent history for televised news conferences for the president-elect. It's happened only three times in the past 20 years, in 1988 with George H.W. Bush, 1992 with Bill Clinton and 2000 for George W. Bush. The first two happened in a different media era, with more of a role for broadcast TV and only CNN as a cable news channel. In 2000, with a 37-day recount process, it was only a short time between Bush was named the president and the inauguration.
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