Rachel Maddow, MSNBC colleagues score face time with Obama

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is the president’s favorite media hack, judging from official White House visitors log records.

The liberal talking head has been cleared to enter the White House seven times. During three of those visits, she met with President Barack Obama in his residence or in the West Wing, usually for TV interviews.

She was also cleared to attend a holiday reception, and to sit down for a discussion with Robert Gibbs while he was the White House press secretary.

Another record reflects her attendance at a “Biden Beach Boardwalk Bash” last September. The visitors logs offer no mention of whether she got to drive the Veep’s Camaro, however.

One of her personal visits with Obama was part of a December 2010 cattle call with other left-wing journalists including E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Ed Schultz, Frank Rich, Ezra Klein and Arianna Huffington.

But two solo visits with the president is impressive for an MSNBC host with a weeknight audience of 1 million people. That’s half as many as the number who watch Fox, but twice as many as the competing audience watching CNN.

Jon Stewart attracts roughly 2.3 million viewers each night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” but he was cleared only once, for a November 2009 Kennedy Center reception. Obama has visited Stewart’s set, however, including in October 2010 when he unsuccessfully tried to spur youth turnout before the GOP’s Nov. 2010 electoral sweep.

Maddow’s three visits with Obama are the same number enjoyed by King Abdullah of Jordan, even though he is a critical Middle East ally facing an Islamist upsurge that has already toppled other U.S.-friendly leaders.

Unfortunately for Maddow, Abdullah has another visit scheduled with the president Tuesday morning, putting her one place behind the Middle East monarch.

She can take comfort from the fact that she’s way ahead of Egypt’s ambassador, Sameh Shoukry. His important country is sliding backwards in time, but he’s been cleared just once to see Obama. And that was for a state dinner, not for bilateral talks.

Maddow has received far fewer invites than the GOP’s leader in the House, Ohio Rep. John Boehner. He has been cleared 21 times, but 14 of those were for budget negotiations in June and July, and four more were ceremonial or social occasions,  including a ‘”Congressional Luau.” That leaves just three — a number that matches Maddow’s.

She’s also way ahead of her media peers.

Maddow’s closest rival for presidential attention is Fareed Zakaria, the CNN host and Newsweek editor. The visitors log shows one Oval Office visit for Zakaria in August 2010, and a March 2011 meeting in the residence, plus an entry for an event on the “south grounds.” The south grounds are used for receptions and parties.

Arianna Huffington scored seven visits, but only two with Obama himself, and she had to share one of those visits with Maddow, Klein, and other left-wingers.

E.J. Dionne has been cleared ten times, but most of those visits were for chats with Biden or Obama chief political strategist David Axelrod.

Maddow’s MSNBC colleague, Chris Matthews, was only let inside once, and that was to enjoy the thrill of a 2010 Christmas event.

Another MSNBC face, Martin Bashir, has not visited at all. Ed Schultz’s name appears twice in the White House database: once for the 2010 group visit, and another time for a big reception.

Maddow’s former MSNBC peer, Keith Olbermann, has scored only a single visit for a January 2010 meeting with Gibbs.

The New York Times got a group session with Obama in August 2010, giving op-ed editor Andy Rosenthal his second of two clearances. Rosenthal’s first was for a meeting with Axelrod in November 2009.

The Times group’s meeting with Obama included David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Joseph Nocera, Arthur Sulzberger and several others.

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