Isn't it weird when journalists come about against press conferences? But that's what Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan did on Thursday. He claimed to be in favor of "plain old citizens" getting news from the Federal Reserve System. "But I’ve got a really bad feeling about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s plan to make the Fed more “transparent” by holding four news conferences a year. It sounds great, but I think Bernanke will come to regret descending into the journalistic scrum on a regular basis."
Sloan despaired that the Fed would try to appear less aloof and elitist while it prints up money willy-nilly and gets criticized by "supposed 'populists' who want to get the Fed to follow their doctrines." Not only that, journalists will bog Bernanke down in dumb gaffes:
It probably won’t take long for them to turn into gaffe-seeking sessions, with questioners trying to get Bernanke to look angry or foolish or to say something really dumb.
Although this risks having me tarred with the E (for “elitist”) word, I think the Fed is better off with less exposure. That way, people will continue to think that the Fed is more knowledgeable, powerful and organized than it really is...
The Fed has two huge advantages over other government institutions. First, it retains at least some mystique. Second, it sets its own budget and doesn’t have to grovel to politicians for money. The Fed is insanely profitable, because it can create money out of nothing and use it to buy interest-bearing securities. That’s how it made $82 billion last year.
I’d hate to see the Fed tailor its policies so they’ll sound good at the chairman’s quarterly news conferences. It may sound silly for me to worry about the Fed’s well-being. But as things stand now, it’s the only part of the government that seems capable of taking quick economic action.
Even if you’re dubious, as I am, about the Fed’s program of printing dollars and slowly debasing them — the effect of what the Fed calls quantitative easing — at least the Fed was able to do something dramatic and quick to try to stimulate the economy. Meanwhile, Congress and the administration seem immobilized by talk, politics and games.
Other central bankers — including the European Central Bank and the Bank of England — hold frequent news conferences. But it just feels unseemly for the Fed, the world’s most powerful central bank (albeit less powerful now relative to markets and other central banks than it was when the U.S. economy and currency were more dominant), to be trying to kiss up to the public.
Yes, that's a journalist finding it "unseemly" that the Fed would try to appear transparent and "kiss up." He concludes on another self-loathing note:
The people who dislike the Fed for ideological or policymaking reasons aren’t going to change their minds because of Bernanke’s news conferences. Neither are the millions of people who feel screwed-over economically and want someone to blame. So good luck, Ben. If you can survive giving testimony in Congress, you know all about dealing with foolish questions.