Celebrities George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey and prominent lobbyists, corporate executives and Democratic fundraisers were among the first to score visits with President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle or top aides at the White House, newly released records show.
The White House late Friday afternoon posted a list of roughly 480 records in response to questions about whether specific people visited the president's home. It plans to start disclosing comprehensive visitor lists in coming months.
The records are a step toward making good on Obama's promise of transparency. But they also show that despite a campaign pledge to reduce special-interest influence on policymaking, lobbyists are getting face time with him and his aides.
The visits included in the records released Friday include roughly eight dozen with Obama.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that reports the economy is growing again and that more than 1 million jobs were saved or created by his stimulus plan show "we are moving in the right direction."
But he tempered his upbeat message with a cautious word about further job losses and progress yet to be made.
Unemployment hit a 26-year high of 9.8 percent in September, and the October report due next week could show it topping 10 percent.
The government reported this week that the economy grew 3.5 percent from July through September, the first signs of growth in a year and unofficial confirmation that the economic slide that began in December 2007 is over. Separately, the White House said Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan — a mix of spending and tax cuts — had saved or created more than 1 million jobs.
Tugged in different political directions, the White House is seeking credit for good economic news and trying to escape blame for the bad stuff.
President Barack Obama greeted as "obviously welcome news" a government report showing the economy grew 3.5 percent from July through September after four quarters of declines. That's unofficial confirmation that the long, harsh recession has ended.
A Colorado company said it created 4,231 jobs with the help of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan. The real number: fewer than 1,000.
A child care center in Florida said it saved 129 jobs with the help of stimulus money. Instead, it gave pay raises to its existing employees.
Elsewhere in the U.S., some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two, three, four or even more times.
Fox News Channel and the Obama administration are talking.
The network confirmed a Politico report that Fox news executive Michael Clemente met at the White House on Wednesday with Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama's press secretary. There were no details given about the meeting.
Fox has been battling with the administration, which contends the network operates more like a wing of the Republican Party than a news organization.
A year after Lehman Brothers collapsed, helping to trigger the worst financial crisis in seven decades, the Obama administration is pressing Congress for the power to dismantle other nonbank firms considered so large and influential that they could bring down the entire economy.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was asking a House panel on Thursday to pass legislation that would enable federal regulators to identify and monitor big financial firms and step in to wind them down before they collapse.
Even though more and more Americans question the increasingly political actions of President Barack Obama, the mainstream media continues -- for the most part -- to give him a pass on actions that would have drawn harsh criticism if his predecessor has pulled the same stunts.
If George W. Bush had pulled some of the same stunts, the pundits would be howling with self-righteous protest and the liberal blogs and discussion forums would be screaming in anquish.
Let's face it. Most of the mainstream media loves Obama. They hated Bush.
With public option plans now a part of health care reform bills in both the House and Senate, liberals want to know when President Barack Obama is going to grow a spine and start acting like a leader.
And they're patience is wearing thin.
"I hope the President speaks out strongly for the public option - this health care bill really becomes his at this point," Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown tells Politico, which is reporting that Democratic Senators and House members have been "grumbling for weeks" that the President lacks leadership on the issue.
Now they want action.
The same president who aggressively harnesses the power of the press to promote his agenda has taken to lacing his comments with criticisms of the media, with no bigger target than the gabby culture of cable television.
President Barack Obama's critique is biting: The media prefer conflict over cooperation, encourage bad behavior and weaken the ability of leaders to help the nation.
The White House's attempt to discredit Fox News as an arm of the Republican Party may have been getting the headlines, but it is only one recent window into Obama's already complex and crafty relationship with those who cover him.
The Obama administration plans to unveil on Monday a new plan for dealing with troubled financial giants, said a senior U.S. lawmaker, who also mentioned potentially big changes for the insurance industry.
Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a chief architect of the financial regulation overhaul, declined on Friday to give details on the administration's new bill, which would give the government the power to dismantle large financial companies that get into crises.
The new draft bill is expected to take a tougher stance toward troubled financial firms than the administration's original plan, and may take out some language that would allow for temporary bailouts.