Media outlets that sued over transparency suddenly quiet over off-the-record luncheon

posted at 10:55 am on August 13, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When the open-government activist group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Bush administration to get the records of White House visitors from Secret Service logs, media outlets practically fell over themselves to join the effort.  Newspapers like the Washington Post and USA Today and wire services like AP and Reuters filed amicus briefs with the court, and the Obama administration eventually agreed to start releasing the records.  Now, however, the same news organizations have discovered a new sense of privacy when it comes to their attendance in an off-the-record event with Barack Obama:

White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who’ve advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.

But the identities of the lunch’s attendees won’t remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House’s periodically updated public database of visitor logs. The White House posts them with a three-month lag, so records of August visits won’t be available until late November. (Although, since many of those invited already work in the White House every day, their lunch visit may not register.)

Michael Calderone and John Cook point out the hypocrisy:

And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.

The Washington Post filed an amicus brief in in February 2008 arguing that the names of White House visitors should be released, and it was joined by the Associated Press, Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones, USA Today, the Hearst Corporation, the New York Daily News, the Newspaper Guild, the Society of Professional Journalists, and a host of other news outlets.

There are a couple of notable exceptions.  The New York Times refused to attend the event, and for good reason.  The Gray Lady wants more public interaction with the President, who has been remarkably shy about holding press conferences.  He has only held two in the past year, the Gulf spill event that Obama couldn’t avoid, and the infamous July 2009 prime-time press conference in which he accused Cambridge, Massachusetts police of “acting stupidly” without bothering to learn the facts of the arrest of Henry “Skip” Gates.

The Washington Examiner didn’t get an invitation to the luncheon, but claimed they would have revealed their participation had they accepted one:

So far only the New York Times is saying it declined the invite — a droll bit of high-mindedness, considering Obama mostly loves the NYT and they get tons more access than most, anyway. So refusing to have an off-the-record lunch with the president in company with 11 or so other filthy scribes in soiled ties, rumpled jackets and scuffed heels does what?

Still (grudgingly) — it’s important to remind the president that we want to hear from him on the record, so it’s helpful for the NYT to take that stand, even if it costs them nothing.

But there is another uncomfortable issue to be addressed here: The press is constantly pushing for more transparency from the administration, demanding to know who he meets with and who comes and goes. So when it’s us he meets with we suddenly get all shy and private?

The Times has the metrics to back up its complaint:

Through July 20, Ms. Kumar counted 36 press conferences since Mr. Obama took office. That compares with the same number for the second President Bush, 66 for President Clinton and 54 for the elder President Bush the same amount of time into their presidencies.

But that leaves out some context.  Obama was holding press conferences every week or two in his first months in office, which is why he got to 35 by the end of July 2009, when it became clear that Obama was a gaffe machine when off of the Teleprompter.  Since then, he’s held a grand total of one, and it doesn’t look like the White House has any more planned after the late May Gulf spill presser.

When media outlets participate in off-the-record events, they give Obama a chance to spin coverage without doing so on the record.  It wouldn’t be a problem if Obama made himself regularly available in an open Q&A setting to the press corps, which complained when Obama’s predecessor would go a couple of months between pressers.  With the White House butting up Obama and keeping him off the record, participation in the luncheon is really just enabling the silence.  If media outlets felt so strongly about transparency as to demand the White House visitor logs, the least they can do is to acknowledge their own roles in letting this President off the hook for accountability and transparency.


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And then there’s this via the DrudgeReport -

Washington Examiner

President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Skywise on August 13, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Just reinforces the fact that he is not a public servant, he is a public parent. This is the mommy-state way of saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

WashingtonsWake on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Oh man,it never ends!!
=============================================

Sonny And Cher – The Beat Goes On

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5Jpo2PpgvE&feature=related

canopfor on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Yawn, this is nothing new-during the 2004 campaign, al-AP sued the Bush White House to force the release of all of Chimpy’s military records. He complied.

But then, al-AP and the rest of the “objective” media happily ignored the story when Bush’s Democrat “opponent”, who claims to have served in Vietnam, refused to release all of his military records for public scrutiny.

Wonder what he was (and still is) hiding?

Del Dolemonte on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat.

Good Lt on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Considering all the lies he told about transparency, it seems the approach is this: When caught in an outright lie, lie more, lie louder and lie harder.

WashingtonsWake on August 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Why do I always see this doofus shoving food into his piehole, his BBQ’s and his penchant for sub shop & hamburger joint visits and yet he’s such a skinny basterd ??

Jerome Horwitz on August 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Who took that picture? Good lord, dude, let the man eat his lunch!

Tony737 on August 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Is the hated Fox News invited?

This obvious question expands the intent.

Freddy on August 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

The MARXIST SOCIALIST MEDIA Strikes again!!!!!

canopfor on August 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Meeting with the President for lunch is so much more civilized than Journolist.

zmdavid on August 13, 2010 at 11:07 AM

I hope they undercook his burger!

pilamaye on August 13, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Well, duh. A private, invitation-only meeting with reporters does three things:

1. Co-opts those news agencies who get invited, so they will stop pushing the White House press office for more news conferences and stop reminding the public that Obama hasn’t had once since July of last year;

2. Allows them to shut out Fox News without being obvious.

3. Allows Obama to use his friendlier private persona instead of his wooden public one, and makes a gaffe less likely and less known if it happens. So the reporting on him will go back to the “Obama the intellectual, professorial wonder” instead of “Obama can’t talk without a teleprompter.”

rockmom on August 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat.

Good Lt on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

One cannot be a hypocrite when one has no principles to violate.

CurtZHP on August 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

The White House posts them with a three-month lag, so records of August visits won’t be available until late November.

I question the timing.

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 11:13 AM

JList 3.0?

faraway on August 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Is the hated Fox News invited?

This obvious question expands the intent.

Freddy on August 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

If they are, they should bring food tasters.

zmdavid on August 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Chance of media traction on this story? 0%
Chance of average citizens even reading and understanding this? 2%

That is why the GOP will never really win anything significant.

ClassicCon on August 13, 2010 at 11:21 AM

And then there’s this via the DrudgeReport -

Washington Examiner

President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Skywise on August 13, 2010 at 11:01 AM

“…duties…will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.”

Whose wife admires most of all Chairman Mao, the mass murderer.

Everyone, just stop for a moment and think about just who, exactly, is in the Obama Administration and by that, who Obama actually is.

Bob Bauer and ethics: I smell bad cheese.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Why do I always see this doofus shoving food into his piehole, his BBQ’s and his penchant for sub shop & hamburger joint visits and yet he’s such a skinny basterd ??

Jerome Horwitz on August 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Rumor has it he has Parkinson’s. Obviously, he has SOMEthing. His obvious wasting — particularly since he claims he quit smoking — is the opposite of normal.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM

So when the news media reports a “senior white house official speaking off the record” they mean the President said it?

Skandia Recluse on August 13, 2010 at 11:28 AM

So when the news media reports a “senior white house official speaking off the record” they mean the President said it?

Skandia Recluse on August 13, 2010 at 11:28 AM

I wouldn’t describe him as senior.

zmdavid on August 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat.

Good Lt on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 AM

amen!

the whole lot of them…did they dine on kobe beef and arugla salad?

cmsinaz on August 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

JList 3.0?

faraway on August 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM

indeed

cmsinaz on August 13, 2010 at 11:33 AM

This kind of stuff makes you wonder if the entire MSM is in the bag for this bunch.

S/

docflash on August 13, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Hey, press, quit pressing the prez to have pressers … it’s not that pressing. He’s busy campaigning and vacationing … or campaignin’ and vacationin’, depending on the local dialect.

ziggyville on August 13, 2010 at 11:35 AM

JList 3.0?

faraway on August 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM

indeed

cmsinaz on August 13, 2010 at 11:33 AM

BINGO, faraway, BINGO.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM

“Pressers? We don’t need no Stenking PRESSERS”!!!

44Magnum on August 13, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Steeenking

44Magnum on August 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Further along in the same article, the tone softens to one of understanding for the left-wing hacks who screamed and whined for transparency under Boooooooooooooosh:

It’s understandable that reporters will not discuss what transpired in the off-the-record meeting, but several won’t even confirm if they attended.

It’s understandable because Obama has to placate his once sycophantic media lapdogs?

VibrioCocci on August 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Politicians speak to their supporters at closed-door functions all the time. What’s the big deal?

Tongueboy on August 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Comment edit? We don’t need no steeenking comment edit!!!

44Magnum on August 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Can you imagine what these people would get away with if it weren’t for the internet?

Cindy Munford on August 13, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Why do I always see this doofus shoving food into his piehole, his BBQ’s and his penchant for sub shop & hamburger joint visits and yet he’s such a skinny basterd ??

Jerome Horwitz on August 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

He’s bulimic. He stays thin by regurgitating the same Bush-blaming, responsibility-shirking crap every day.

leilani on August 13, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Bammie favors the private lunches because in televised press conferences if he goes off-prompter and steps on his own _, that mistake can’t be taken back. If he says something stupid to these liberal hacks in a private lunch we’ll never know.

slickwillie2001 on August 13, 2010 at 11:44 AM

POTUS – TOTUS = ZERO

petefrt on August 13, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Another day, another expiration date for Mr Empty Suit.

GarandFan on August 13, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Is this a caption contest? Cuz it should be.

fossten on August 13, 2010 at 11:57 AM

His obvious wasting — particularly since he claims he quit smoking — is the opposite of normal.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM


President Obama still smoking? Doctor’s note may be smoking gun

BY Richard Sisk
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

Originally Published:Sunday, February 28th 2010, 1:22 PM

petefrt on August 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM

JList 3.0?

faraway on August 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM

faraway: Most brilliant!!:)

canopfor on August 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM

…Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)…

I’m going to start a new organization: Senior Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington = Much better acronym.

And RE: the main page photo for this thread: if I ever become a public figure, I’m just NOT going to eat in public. Every photo of 0bama eating has made him look even more like a crude, mannerless boor.

LegendHasIt on August 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM

President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I love what Tammy Bruce had to say about this today on her Facebook page.

UltimateBob on August 13, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Rumor has it he has Parkinson’s. Obviously, he has SOMEthing. His obvious wasting — particularly since he claims he quit smoking — is the opposite of normal.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Lourdes, just curious; where did you read this rumor? Has anyone tried to substantiate it? He really does look skinny….

chai on August 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM

petefrt on August 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Yeah, it’s difficult to keep track of when he’s stopped smoking and when he’s “sneaking”, isn’t it?

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Lourdes, just curious; where did you read this rumor? Has anyone tried to substantiate it? He really does look skinny….

chai on August 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM

The Hillbuzz guys have their ear to the ground in Chicago. Here’s their post about it from a few months back (though the photo no longer displays). Look at the bit under 2):

Hillbuzz: About that Drudge Report headline with the skeleton-thin current President

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Rumor has it he has Parkinson’s. Obviously, he has SOMEthing. His obvious wasting — particularly since he claims he quit smoking — is the opposite of normal.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Lourdes, just curious; where did you read this rumor? Has anyone tried to substantiate it? He really does look skinny….

chai on August 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM

I save a lot of news but this one I didn’t save when reading it (just a few days ago, maybe a week ago) because, as I noted, it was obvious rumor.

But it makes sense and the rumoring I read included more than a few discussing Parkinson’s as the reason Obama is visibly wasting AND why he has that “frozen” moment when not reading from a teleprompter (and sometimes, even when doing so — remember the fly-on-his-face moment).

I wish I could recall where I read it, sorry, cannot, but it was very recently…

Let me see, what else:

Someone (a reporter, someone who identified himself) claims to have visited Obama’s Chicago house and been left alone for a few minutes in a reading or library kind of room in the place and so was standing there not snooping into papers but just standing there looking around the room while waiting.

What he viewed was more than a few materials lying around as if being recently accessed that was on Parkinson’s. So the person (who I now can’t recall who, sorry, said it was rumor) started discussing Parkinson’s (or, rather, “early onset Parkinson’s) as a possible explanation of Obama’s various issues being now observed (constant vacations, lots of time off, his lack of coordinated skill in even playing golf, alleged ‘knee’ problems that he claims limits him from more activities, also steroids which may be present due to “knee” so-called)…

Anyway, the story developed from there and I was reading some rumoring-sort of discussion about Parkinson’s being a likely explanation for Obama’s quirky physical condition/s and somewhat inexplicable inability to actually DO ANY WORK…

Also the wasting thing is abnormal for a middle-aged man such as Obama is what with Obama’s ongoing gnoshing especially of high-calorie, high-fat foods, and especially amidst claims he’s stopped smoking (the physical reaction when one stops smoking is to start applying far more calories to your body than were applied when you smoked — you “store” more calories that were not being stored when you smoked, so until there’s an adjustment to intake and exercise activity after stopping smoking, ESPECIALLY WHEN MIDDLE-AGED, you gain weight.

Obama claims he stopped smoking and presto, he’s LOSING weight. And eating a very rich diet, from the news. So, his physical wasting makes no sense except due to some disease process.

Parkinson’s would explain his behaviors and appearance, though, OR, drug use.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Lourdes, just curious; where did you read this rumor? Has anyone tried to substantiate it? He really does look skinny….

chai on August 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM

The Hillbuzz guys have their ear to the ground in Chicago. Here’s their post about it from a few months back (though the photo no longer displays). Look at the bit under 2):

Hillbuzz: About that Drudge Report headline with the skeleton-thin current President

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

A-HA, that’s where I read it, or, via a link there.

It was also about the second time in all these years I’ve ever accessed Hillbuzz and I recall why I did was due to some news search I did on some issue and one was linked to Hillbuzz, found my way over there and then into the Obama-Parkinson’s ruminations…

Thanks for that link, I had completely forgotten where I’d read that because I read it only in the course of following a tree of links on another issue, and, Hillbuzz isn’t one of my frequent-visit sites.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 12:54 PM

You’re welcome! I had completely forgotten about it myself until you mentioned the rumor upthread. I like the Hillbuzz guys. They are PUMAs (although they don’t seem quite as enthusiastic about Hillary as they once did) and firmly behind Palin. They’re gossipy, but they write very well and are a lot of fun.

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 12:54 PM

You’re welcome! I had completely forgotten about it myself until you mentioned the rumor upthread. I like the Hillbuzz guys. They are PUMAs (although they don’t seem quite as enthusiastic about Hillary as they once did) and firmly behind Palin. They’re gossipy, but they write very well and are a lot of fun.

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 12:58 PM

I was doing a news search on some obtuse issue and just happened upon some link to there by way of some two other links, like that, completely lost by then as to the original query, so had forgotten where I’d read that Parkinson’s discussion but just remembered the discussion.

Like I wrote, rumor.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Like I wrote, rumor.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Just so, and bears repeating.

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Hillbuzz: About that Drudge Report headline with the skeleton-thin current President

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

But, you know, Parkinson’s could also explain that “giant scar” on the side of Obama’s head. Neurosurgery…which is an aggressive course of treatment to forestall the onset of Parkinson’s. Micheal J. Fox, for example, had such.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 1:03 PM

chai on August 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM

And, cocaine use can contribute to onset of Parkinson’s or a syndrome similar to Parkinson’s.

Like I wrote earlier, rumor.

End of my participation in it…

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:06 PM

I didn’t know about the scar, but I just googled for it and saw photos. What on earth is that? Surely something that you’d think would have been reported in his medical history disclosures…oh, wait.

Missy on August 13, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Apparently this scar is real but it has an explanation. While a child in Indonesia Obama:

Ran into barbed wire while mudsliding in Indonesia. One of his forearms was lacerated from wrist to elbow, and required 20 stitches. “An ugly scar” remains.

petunia on August 13, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Oops I thought you said hand…

I think there was a thing about being hit in the head or something too that left a scar that shows more at some times than others.

Clearly Indonesia was not a safe place to raise a child.

petunia on August 13, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Hypocrisy and Obama butt-covering in the mainstream media. I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Sounds like its time to bring out the Captain Renault Award…

Athanasius on August 13, 2010 at 1:23 PM

…filthy scribes in soiled ties, rumpled jackets and scuffed heels…

Huh?!? Is that an inside joke among “journalists”?

KS Rex on August 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Apparently this scar is real but it has an explanation. While a child in Indonesia Obama:

Ran into barbed wire while mudsliding in Indonesia. One of his forearms was lacerated from wrist to elbow, and required 20 stitches. “An ugly scar” remains.

petunia on August 13, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Yeah, but that doesn’t address the HEAD SCAR, giant scar on one side of his head.

I guess soon we’ll hear some story about a bad barber in Indonesia and how little Barry barely managed to get the barber a bailout afterward but was finally successful, right after he lowered the tide and made all his medical, academic and adoption records disappear.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:31 PM

He has only held two in the past year, the Gulf spill event that Obama couldn’t avoid, and the infamous July 2009 prime-time press conference in which he accused Cambridge, Massachusetts police of “acting stupidly” without bothering to learn the facts of the arrest of Henry “Skip” Gates.

Ummm….. July 2009 was not within the last year. He has only held one press conference within the last year.

Theophile on August 13, 2010 at 1:38 PM

The Upshot has come up with the list of journos:

Here’s the lineup: Ben Feller (Associated Press), Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler (Wall Street Journal), Michael Shear and Scott Wilson (Washington Post), Caren Bohan (Reuters), David Jackson (USA Today), Carol Lee (Politico), Peter Nicholas (Tribune Co.), Margaret Talev (McClatchy) and Julianna Goldman (Bloomberg).

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100813/pl_yblog_upshot/which-white-house-reporters-had-lunch-with-obama

Whiskey Rebel on August 13, 2010 at 1:41 PM

No self-respecting news organization would EVER agree to an off the record anything except in very few circumstances. Situations such as the identity of sources in witness protection, juveniles, crime victims, situations like that.

Off the record visits generally involve someone telling a reporter what they don’t want reported on and providing options they would like to have reported on. It’s fishy.

Mad Mad Monica on August 13, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Well it’s not like he can be seen eating lunch during ramadan.

Ronnie on August 13, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Pictures of Barky on Hillbuzz and Drudge mentioned above are gone.

drunyan8315 on August 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM

But, you know, Parkinson’s could also explain that “giant scar” on the side of Obama’s head. Neurosurgery…which is an aggressive course of treatment to forestall the onset of Parkinson’s. Micheal J. Fox, for example, had such.

Lourdes on August 13, 2010 at 1:04 PM

That’s where Uncle Georgy put the transmitter.

slickwillie2001 on August 13, 2010 at 2:22 PM

…And RE: the main page photo for this thread: if I ever become a public figure, I’m just NOT going to eat in public. Every photo of 0bama eating has made him look even more like a crude, mannerless boor.

LegendHasIt on August 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Remember this one: Obama Swallows Hot Dog

slickwillie2001 on August 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM

rockmom on August 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

4. We don’t get the joy of laughing at another Obamanism.

This president is depriving me. help?

karl9000 on August 13, 2010 at 4:44 PM

You’re going to get riled because the Partisans In Media Promoting Socialism get a free lunch? Their unionized aren’t they?

chickasaw42 on August 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM

I’d vote for Jimmy Carter if he ran for the dim nomination in 2012…………

RealMc on August 13, 2010 at 6:21 PM