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Gibbs: Obama hasn't talked to Hayward because BP board calls the shots

Updated 5:46 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear
When President Obama was asked by NBC's Matt Lauer why he had not yet called the CEO of BP about the Gulf oil spill, he said he assumed CEO's just told presidents things they wanted to hear.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had another answer.

Gibbs said Obama hasn't called CEO Tony Hayward because -- according to what Gibbs called the "executive structure of corporate governance" -- the CEO alone isn't the final word on company decisions, which are made by the board of directors.

"Look, the CEO is elected by the board. Anything that the CEO wants to do has to be approved by the board," Gibbs said.

Later, he added: "I'm telling you, based on the corporate governance structure, in order to implement what -- whatever you get from BP the CEO has to get clearance from the board to do. That's -- that's the corporate governance structure is -- is laid out."

So did that mean that Obama had picked up the phone to talk to some of these powerful board members?


Gibbs said repeatedly that the government is in contact with officials at the company. And he pointed several times to a meeting demanded by Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen Wednesday to discuss the claims payment procedures with BP officials.

But pressed on the question of direct contact between Obama and Hayward, Gibbs repeatedly returned to the idea that it was the board -- not the CEO -- that would be calling the shots.

"Again, again, the CEO plays a role, but the way their board is devised, the chairman of the board and the board OK what happens," Gibbs said.

There are eight non-executive members of the BP board (not counting Hayward and the five other company executives who sit on the board.) Asked whether Obama had made efforts to talk to them, Gibbs said he had not. He said the government is "in constant communication with and pushing BP to do what is necessary."

Obama has met with CEOs from a wide range of companies repeatedly during his year-and-a-half in office. In fact, when the president became angry about banks giving big bonuses to their executives after taking bailout funds, he scolded them in person during a meeting at the White House.

And just last month, it was the West Wing which was bragging that Obama had bluntly chided Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson at a May 3 dinner, telling him that he expected the entire petroleum industry to dedicate its resources to the spill cleanup.

In his comments Wednesday, Gibbs declined to say whether Obama is planning to meet with Hayward when the CEO testifies before Congress next week, saying that "if I've got any scheduling updates, I'll let you know."

He also indicated that he didn't see much value in such a face-to-face meeting.

"Well, again, we are -- we're in -- we're in contact with BP about what they need to do," Gibbs said.

By Michael D. Shear  |  June 9, 2010; 5:13 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Again, Obama and his henchmen show their appalling ignorance of the real corporate world. Yes, the Board of Directors sets policy which the CEO must follow, but the CEO runs day-to-day operations without any help/input from the Board. Gibbs does not know that as shown by his mumbling, faltering response saying something about the Board. Gibbs, here's a short lesson: Boards usually meet about once every three months (a quarter to keep in sync with the stock market which expects quarterly reports from any company that's traded on the major exchanges). Of course, none of Obama's people ever worked in the real world so they don't know that. The Board can be called into emergency session -- and probaby would if Obama requested it. But he's too busy, campaigning for Boxer in CA, having dinner parties for one of the old Beatles, meeting with sports teams, vacationing in Chicago, etc., etc., etc. Time to get off the pot, Obama, and do something to help with the clean-up. Listen to Democrat shill Carville talk about what is NOT being done and tell your EPA people to respond pronto. Not having ANY CEO experience is revealing Obama to be the wizard behind the curtain in the "Wizard of Oz" movie -- a big bag of hot air.

Posted by: RonKH | June 11, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

The same is true for Obama...

Why should any foreign leader work to reach an agreement with Obama, since we all know any treaty requires Senate ratification?

More double-speak, half-truths, confusion and excuses from this incompetent administration! In the end our President is a cowering coward who is unable to do anything more than fear-mongering and demonization. Going all the way back to the campaign Obama has never offered solutions, instead he plays the victim card and complains that the world is unfair!

Posted by: ELFopportunity | June 10, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Bagdad Bob Gibbs has become a parody of himself. Who needs SNL when there is video of this Gibberish?

Posted by: jadams76 | June 10, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

This is laughable! This guy Hayward is the CEO!

Maybe Kenya Boy is scared that when he tries to kick Hayward's a s s , Hayward will kick back! And then too, maybe his second choice, the head janitor, is too busy to waste his time with some clown acting as a big mouth phony president.

Right now the focus should be on stopping the flow. They can get to finger pointing and political photo ops later.

I doubt the total amount of knowledge on the Hill in Washington could equal the knowledge necessary to clean a two quart oil spill at Jiffy Lube so get out of the way of the experts who actually are doing the job!

Posted by: TexRancher | June 10, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training," a campaign rival said. That was Joe Biden

Posted by: wizard3_us | June 10, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

17 countries made offers of help with the oil spill, according to PJ Rowley in an official statement from the State Department. All but 2 were TURNED DOWN. These countries are..."Canada, Mexico, Korea, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

Though the State Department receives the offers, it is BP and the Unified Area Command, led by the Coast Guard, that are the entities that decide which offers to accept. So far, the UAC has accepted skimmers and booms offered by Mexico and Norway. He deferred questions as to why only those offers had been accepted so far to the UAC in Louisiana."

Search for yourselves....the language I captured is from ABC's Jake Tapper

Posted by: wizard3_us | June 10, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

It's the federal governments responsibility through the clean water act to keep the gulf, oceans, and waterways clean. Obama sat on his thumbs from day one when he should of been out in the gulf twenty or thirty miles from shore trying to contain and pick up as much oil as possible. They were offered skimmers which could of gotten eighty or ninety percent of the oil before it came ashore. Now we have forty-six and counting days worth of oil out there that is coming ashore. The problem is going to get a lot worse before it will get better. BP and MMS are responsible for the leak but the federal government and Obama not doing anything except playing the blame game. That's inexcusable. We should be just as mad at the governments response as we are at BP. MMS passed the inspections on the rig and it's Obama's people in the MMS. This oil coming ashore in this quantity didn't have to happen. Obama said he's in charge. The only thing he's in charge of is blaming everyone else but his administration.

Posted by: wizard3_us | June 10, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

There is a point when you've said something so absurd that you should just resign! Gibbs has hit that point! If he's just going to babble beyond the point of all stupidity he would be best advised to just shut up. Jon Stewart did a great piece about Obama's handling of the Gulf crisis. He says if Obama needs to find a responsible a-- to kick....he needs to kick his own! Its hilarious and yet much more devastating than anything anybody else has said! Don't miss it!!!!!

Posted by: valwayne | June 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

There is a point when you've said something so absurd that you should just resign! Gibbs has hit that point! If he's just going to babble beyond the point of all stupidity he would be best advised to just shut up. Jon Stewart did a great piece about Obama's handling of the Gulf crisis. He says if Obama needs to find a responsible a-- to kick....he needs to kick his own! Its hilarious and yet much more devastating than anything anybody else has said! Don't miss it!!!!!

Posted by: valwayne | June 10, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

To "catmomtx".(your statement)
"We get it already. You people hate Obama. He can and will do nothing right".

Are you just waking up from a 6 year sleep? Tell me one thing Obama did correct, I'm a life long Dem. but did not vote for Obama, it was easy for me to see through his lies and false pretences. Let's bring this up again, where was he born?

Posted by: koln100 | June 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

What a childish excuse. Besides, I thought he was looking to “kick ass”. Just like the school yard bully. Embarrassing that he’s the President of the United States.

Posted by: militarymom1 | June 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Excuses, excuses. Now the story's changing on this scandal. Gibbs and Obama can't even get their own stories straight. Better schedule a lunch betwixt the two like he did with Clinton to get their stories straight on Sestak.

Posted by: sladenyv1 | June 10, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Excuses, excuses. Now the story's changing on this scandal. Gibbs and Obama can't even get their own stories straight. Better schedule a lunch betwixt the two like he did with Clinton to get their stories straight on Sestak.

Posted by: sladenyv1 | June 10, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama can communicate with heads of state around the world but he cannot talk with the CEO of BP?? Amazing. Hold on folks - just 2 1/2 years to go and we can elect a leader

In your wildest imagination can you see Hillary Clinton letting 51 days pass without speaking with the BP CEO? We chose the wrong person and in November 2012 Hillary will be headed for the White House.

Posted by: Kansas28 | June 10, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Is Robert Gibbs drinking bong water? I am not an "Obama hater" but you've got to admit no matter who you voted for and who you're pulling for - this is the craziest thing EVER coming out of this White House. The President ASSUMES the CEO will only tell him what he wants to hear and he ASSUMES corporate governance only allows this mysterious BOARD to talk make decisions. But he hasn't tried talking to the chairman, either? Plus, it is the CEO - always - who does the front work even with the board's decisions. He clearly hasn't even worked in the mailroom or he would know how this works.

Robert Gibbs is doing the President NO FAVORS. He makes our leader sound like a school kid telling his parents "I didn't ask if I could stay out later because I knew you would say no."

They deserve anything the blogs throw at them on this one. I think there is rampant insanity running in Washington.

Posted by: jac944 | June 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

To "catmomtx".

Actually Clintons lowest unemployment figure was 5.6%. Bushs was 5.4%.

Posted by: vrbjunk | June 10, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

You mean to tell me that the President of the United States, The Leader of the free world .... Cant get the PB CEO on the phone?

Posted by: vrbjunk | June 10, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Just one more thing Obama haters can twist and turn and get on every blog to whine about.

We get it already. You people hate Obama. He can and will do nothing right. All of you commenting have bigger and better ideas than the entire administration. Put Republicans back in charge. They will know what to do I mean after all they handed President Obama a huge surpluss, peace and prosperity, respect for our country, a strong economy and 5%unemployment.....Oh, my bad, that was Clinton.... Better yet put Sarah Palin back in charge, you all know she can handle EVERYTHING immediately that you feel this President has mishandled. She would have changed the world in a week and she would only write notes on her hand instead of using a teleprompter.

We get it so now can you all quit whining?

Posted by: catmomtx | June 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Completely mind-boggling. If our dullard of a president doesn't realize that a CEO is the single most accountable individual for the actions of a company as well as the one vested with the most power to fix problems, he's really far worse than I thought. (He has gone from 'mediocre' to 'catastrophe' in my mind in just over a year.)

Posted by: TheGlobalizer | June 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

That headline is belies the absolute insanity in DC

Posted by: 1SkyTrooper | June 10, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse


what a hoot this clown and Obozo are!! no one believes him any more than they believed Helen Thomas was objective!!

Obozo is scared to pick up a phone, because he dosn't know what to say without TOTUS!

Posted by: morphy | June 10, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama could have saved a lot of breath from everyone and just said "I haven't talked to them because it is beneath Me."

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 10, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, well, well. This country (especially Democrats) is finally waking up to the fact they elected the wrong person to be leader of the United States of America. The millions and millions of women along with millions of men too who voted for Senator Hillary Clinton for President in 2008, are screaming in unison: "We told you so!" That sentiment is now echoing throughout the country as women are being chosen in national primaries to run against incompetent incumbants. My only hope -- and I earnestly believe the only hope for this nation to get out of the mess it's in -- is for Hillary to run for the Presidency again in 2012. I've had enough of Obama, who won't lead but chooses to politically divide this country, and who will not put the American people first on his agenda. He is not a leader -- he's just a politician! Now, where have we heard that before?

Posted by: mpwynn | June 10, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps BP should be working with Congress since the President doesn't call all the shots.

A good followup question to Gibbs is whether or not President Obama has contacted any members of the BP board of directors.

Posted by: paulthiel1 | June 10, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

More evidence of the lack of executive experience of our highest elected official and the people he has placed in positions of highest power. The majority of those who have executive experience in his administration were with the stock companies like the oh so evil Goldman.

What a bunch of hogwash....the President didn't speak to the CEO because the CEO would just tell the President what he wanted to hear.....the CEO doesn't make the decisions, and he didn't speak with any members of the Board of Directors because of the structure of the Board?

In other words, the President hasn't spoken to ANYONE at BP....perhaps because he's been too busy entertaining sports teams, Sir Paul McCartney and taking vacations?

Elections have consequences folks. Big Government and its Red Tape have denied requests by the states involved in this to protect their people and their eco systems until environmental impact studies are completed......


Posted by: LMW6 | June 10, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately, Obama has already stated that he is prepared to be a one-term president, because he certainly will be just that. Obama also stated that he would fire Tony Hayward if he could, but Obama has NOT EVEN PICKED UP THE PHONE TO TALK TO HIM!?? At what level is the Obama's administration coordinating the disaster response? Obama is not a stupid man (that would be Robert Gibbs) so it is inexplicable that he would believe that the best way for the President of the United States of America to communicate with BP is through any means other than through the CEO. If all CEO's are liars, than what does that make Obama, who is afterall the CEO of America.

Posted by: elliotpenna | June 10, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

So Obama can accept millions in campaign donations from BP but he can't find a way to communicate with anyone at BP now as our coast is decimated by this spill??? Geez we have got to make the big changes needed in 2010 and cross fingers, legs, eyes, that we even make it as a country into 2012 to vote him out.
And then there's the 400 million going to Hamas....a known terriorist entity....what else ?!?!?!

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | June 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The US President doesn't meet with CEO's to discuss operational issues. Clearly the problem is the ignorance on the part of the article's authors on the proper protocol a powerful government such as the USA's follows. In other words, having the President talk to Tony Hayward about Hayward's problems demeans the presidency. Also, it seems you think the President should be micromanaging oil spilll response. Maybe this comes from the
ignorance you (meaning the Washington Post) have exhibited regarding both the technical and legal issues involved. Why don't you research and publish that, instead of diluting your coverage with this type of article?

Posted by: fdoleza1 | June 10, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

LIES,LIES AMD MORE LIES FROM OBAMA. It is my opinion Obama wouldn't even know what to say - what to ask and has no clue what is REALLY going on. Sure - he talks the talk but sure can't walk the walk. He has done NOTHING to help the people in this crisis except show up and look concerned. Talk is so cheap - but when you aren't even sure what you are talking about - it is sad. As far as I can remember, Obama has never even HAD a job! Has no idea of how things are run and who calls the shots. He has let everyone down and he has made a fool of himself, because he has NO knowledge of the mess. He didn't go see the real mess - he was taken to a cleaned beach! BIG HELP! Get the lead out - Mr. President, and show you have the back bone to handle this. So far - you get an F - FAILURE in my book.

Posted by: homaek2 | June 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I feel that Robert Gibbs wouldn't know the truth if he fell over it.
He would be wise to keep his mouth shut unless he found out the truth.
This administration is an absolute sham.
They have no idea how corporations work.

Posted by: dapnelson1 | June 10, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Worst WH Press Secretary since Ron Ziegler.

Posted by: bacala1 | June 10, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama= Carter 2.0

Posted by: art202 | June 10, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Excuses, excuses. Obama doesn't see much value in a face-to-face because he doesn't know what the hell he is doing. You don't solve problems in the real world by reading off a teleprompter.

Posted by: peterg73 | June 10, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Does this administration have ANY idea how corporation work? A board of directors does not run the day to day affairs of a company, nor does the CEO have to go the board for every decision. A CEO has very wide latitude to manage the affairs of the company. To suggest that the President hasn't spoken to the BP CEO because the Board makes all the decisions display a shocking ignorance of how business operates. But I suppose it's not that surprising given that the President and most of his administration have never actually worked in the private sector.

Posted by: Lazarus4 | June 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Instead of President Obama out in the forefront making speech after speech about the travesty with the oil spill and who is responsible, isn't his job to actually do something? Is that just a novel idea...This is why having a President who is an eloguent speaker or a great orator is enough to hold this position in office....

Posted by: Rhonda5 | June 10, 2010 2:15 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Gibbs is such a liability to this administration that he must have something on Obama, Rahm or Axelrod in order to keep his job. Although Bush was regarded as a failure, his press secretaries were invariably very good.

Posted by: mckenna7 | June 10, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Note to Bob Gibbs... that answer was PITIFUL.

Posted by: TexGEOas | June 9, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

And just like every other ignorant statement by this joke of administration, this will be forgotten by the time the next news cycle kicks in. Stellar job WaPo, keep it up, and you will be first in line for that sweet, sweet Obama money! Wonder what an Americorps journalist will pull down annually?

Posted by: wytshus | June 9, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's the deal. Suck up as much oil as possible and dump it off the coast of England. Then let's all stop buying gasoline from BP stations in the US. Then see how long it takes for their precious board of directors to open lines of communication. But should that fail, give a deadline to BP that they will stop the leak in 10 days or the US will nationalize the thing and do what it has to to get it under control.

Posted by: Everwatchful | June 9, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

WHY the Press hasn't seen it in the BP video??? WHY the Press STILL don't talks about that??? is BP so powerful???
well, the answer is simple... BP is one of the biggest companies of the world... and one of the biggest advertisers...
the BP's oil spill has killed your sea, your shores, the tourism and economy... are you brave enough to talk about it?

Posted by: gaetanomarano | June 9, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

One hopes this administration would back off the angry rhetoric and look a little more deeply at the rest of the story.

Mr. Obama is portraying shareholders in such a way to encourage class warfare. I for one would encourage him back off and realize that his rhetoric is hurting people far beyond the fishermen.

Besides nearly 10% of public pension funds in the UK and Canada being invested in BP shares, there are also large numbers of people here in the United States whose pension funds are similarly invested. Many of those are retired teachers and university professors who are dependent on their dividends to keep their heads above water.

Recommend your newspaper resources read Bloomberg Financial editorials from June 9.

Respectfully..the reader/poster.

Posted by: preludeok95 | June 9, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Clearly this proves the administrations ignorance of (and disdain for) corporations. This would be like the PM of Great Britain saying that he can't call President Obama because he would have to talk to all 100 Senators. Such ignorance ...

Posted by: martyfrancom | June 9, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

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