Back in May, POLITICO analyzed the press briefings and found that the instances of laughter — as indicated by "(Laughter)" being noted in the official transcript — occurred more than 10 times per day during press secretary Robert Gibbs's briefings.
But the laughter has been reduced by half in recent months: In the first six months of the Obama administration, briefings produced an average of 179 laughs per month. Over the past six months, the average has dropped down to 89.
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."
Truth is, I don't think this is about Gibbs at all.
Don't get me wrong, he's an idiot.
This is about Obama. His smoke and mirrors act is wearing out. A large part of the public, in the 46% range disapproval ratings according to Real Clear Politics lately, are already there. It has taken the smitten press a little longer but they are arriving too.
Reality is the rest of the country is realizing what a lot of us have long ago, there is no there there. Obama is an empty suit. He is grossly unqualified, he has surrounded himself with people who are grossly unqualified, and it is starting to show. They have no idea what to do.
Robert Gibb's job was never to dispense information from the President, there was never any to dispense. His job is, and has been from the beginning, to distract the press and public with his clownish and buffoonish behavior.
They're not buying it anymore.