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White House uses Obama news conference to highlight female journalists on the daily beat

President Barack Obama takes a question during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. The president claimed an array of successes in 2014, citing lower unemployment, a rising number of Americans covered by health insurance, and an historic diplomatic opening with Cuba. He also touts his own executive action and a Chinese agreement to combat global warming.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
December 19, 2014 - 5:49 PM

WASHINGTON - Something was missing from President Barack Obama's year-end news conference. Male questioners.

Obama called on eight White House correspondents during the 52 minutes he spent answering questions in the briefing room on Friday, several hours before he departed with his family for their annual Christmas vacation in his native Hawaii.

All the questioners were female. None represented TV news organizations.

"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," press secretary Josh Earnest said. He said that as Obama's aides began drawing up the list of questioners, "we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the president's closely watched, end of the year news conference."

Obama rarely calls on reporters at random. Aides give him a list of names after they decide which reporters should be called on to ask questions.

The reporters Obama called on work for Politico, Bloomberg BNA, The Associated Press, McClatchy, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and American Urban Radio Networks.

The White House had informed the television networks before the news conference that their correspondents were unlikely to be called on.

Each of them has had opportunities to question Obama since the November midterm elections, and some also have had exclusive interviews with the president during that time.

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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