Politico analyzed the the White House press briefings and discovered that reporters’ laughter at Gibbs’s jokes has declined by 50%.
Chalk it up to the close of any administration’s initial honeymoon — and the Obama administration’s tough second half of 2009, as it wrestled with health care and saw the late Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat filled by a Republican.
“The tone is one reason for less laughter,” says American Urban Radio’s April Ryan. “There are lots of serious questions begging for serious answers. Those questions do not meld with laughter and light banter.”
But there’s also some frustration a-brewing among press corps members.
“There definitely aren’t a lot of laughs around the briefing room these days,” says Washington Examiner White House correspondent Julie Mason. “Robert’s little digs and evasions have lost their power to amuse — particularly since we haven’t had a presser since July.”
Mason also reports frustration in the ranks: “Reporters know how close the press secretary is to the president, and yet the quality of the information we get doesn’t often reflect that.”