After a year in office, the Obama administration has less to laugh about—literally. In a novel measure of the administration's shifting fortunes, Politico's Patrick Gavin analyzed the number of times Robert Gibbs' press briefings were marked by laughter. While the first 6 months Obama's presidency were downright jovial—with 10 laugh riots a day, or 179 per month—incidences of mirth have fallen to about half that since then.
"The tone is one reason for less laughter," observes 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." The Washington Examiner's White House correspondent sees more frustration among reporters: "Robert's little digs and evasions have lost their power to amuse."