Conservative journalists took off-the-record meeting with Obama

posted at 12:41 pm on October 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The Huffington Post reported yesterday evening that Barack Obama met with a small group of well-known conservative journalists at the White House earlier in the day — off the record.  The move comes as Obama’s polling numbers have begun to plummet and he refuses to negotiate with Republicans in Congress over the budget and the debt limit. The meeting follows a similar meeting with progressive journalists that conservatives widely criticized:

President Obama met Tuesday afternoon with a small group of conservative reporters, columnists and commentators for an off-the-record discussion.

The group, according to a source familiar with the meeting, included Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, National Review Washington editor Robert Costa, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York, syndicated columnists Kathleen Parker and Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer.

Obama and the journalists talked for about 90 minutes in the Roosevelt room.

Costa tweeted after that it was an honor to meet Obama, but did not elaborate on the discussion. Given the off the record ground rules, it’s unlikely attendees will discuss exactly what was said inside.

When Obama did this with progressive writers, conservatives ripped the attendees, brought up the Journolist scandal, and noted their administration-friendly stories over the next couple of days. Does that issue matter when the writers are ideologically opposed to the administration?  Erik Wemple — who criticized the earlier progressive confab — says it doesn’t, and that reporters shouldn’t allow themselves to get spun regardless of their political perspective:

The Erik Wemple Blog previously addressed the pitfalls of off-the-record sessions with the president of the United States: If he says something newsworthy, there’s a good chance it’ll leak, via whispers or someone who seeks authorization to put a tidbit or two on the record. And if he doesn’t say anything newsworthy, well, why go in the first place?

Given the degree of skepticism that greeted news of progressive journalists meeting under these quiet terms with President Obama, York clearly felt compelled to explain his presence at the session, so he tweeted away …

Credit York for the long-form Twitter transparency. The trouble with his explanation, though, is its reliance on and adherence to every cowardly public official’s rationale for speaking to groups of people off the record — namely, that it enables them to express their views in a “more open way.” Or, in another common refrain, to have a more “frank” discussion.

That’s always garbage. The president calls these off-the-record sessions so he can plant his agenda in the heads of willing reporters — whether they be conservative, liberal or centrist — without any fingerprints. That’s it. There’s no more to it.

As one commenter in our Headlines thread points out, it didn’t seem to work with Krauthammer, anyway:

“He is really afraid of that debt ceiling. He says he won’t bend on this—of course he’ll have to at the eleventh hour,” Krauthammer said. “He can’t afford to be remembered as the first president who defaulted or allowed, you know, the conditions in which it can happen.”

I’m a bit torn on this. Wemple has an excellent argument, which is bolstered by the fact that this particular President rarely offers himself to tough questions from the press corps.  He did so yesterday, but the professionals at the White House decided to toss softballs for an hour instead, Mark Knoller excepted. Frankly, I find that performance a lot more objectionable than having some reporters take an off-the-record meeting with the President at his request, which reporters of all stripes have been doing with Presidents of all stripes for a very long time before now.  They are under no obligation to push Obama’s spin, after all, whether they report it as such or not. 

There should also be some consideration given to respecting the office as well; if the President politely invites you to the White House to ask for your advice and/or consultation, it seems churlish to a fault to reject the invitation.  All of the reporters disclosed the meeting, as they should, so no one who reads them will be misled on their actions. The wonder in this case shouldn’t really be that the invitations were accepted, it’s that they were made in the first place.

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But more importantly, why divide the meeting up with “conservative” and “liberal” journalists? Are there two different versions as to what was said? And, if so, doesn’t that affirm the fact that journalists these days are not objective in what makes it to print? Happy Nomad

Excellent point!

ChicagoBlue on October 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

What do Hot Air readers think?

I don’t care who you are, journalists meeting with public officials off the record smacks of collusion. Obama wants to shape the narrative behind the scenes, thus any journalist playing that game is suspect. And why should we exempt so called conservative journalists when we were lambasting journolisters no too long ago for the same activity?

The exception would be research for a story or book, but we all know that ain’t what’s going on here. You invite people like Parker Spitz because you expect her to get a tingle in her nether regions just sitting in the same room with Obama, thus translating into good press.

NotCoach on October 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Dr. K should do an hour-long show on Fox about the encounter.

BuckeyeSam on October 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

He won’t; Obama and Krauthammer both want Cruz and Lee to fail. I think their plan is to use the debt ceiling to kill the Cruz/Lee effort. If I’m right then you’ll be noticing that Krauthammer, who sabotaged the tea party effort to limit debt ceiling in ’11 at every turn, will be pushing the debt ceiling fight hard this time and promoting a combined grand bargain that will end the unrelated Cruz/Lee effort and squander everything.

If that’s what Krauthammer does then we know that he and Obama are in cahoots.

FloatingRock on October 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

This whole deal about extracting more taxes from the 48% that still pay them. Nothing else. When that 48% signals it won’t produce then the world can finally see what default looks like.

Whoever is still in a position to loan us more money and actually does deserves to lose it.

DanMan on October 9, 2013 at 2:04 PM

The president calls these off-the-record sessions so he can plant his agenda in the heads of willing reporters — whether they be conservative, liberal or centrist — without any fingerprints. That’s it. There’s no more to it.

I can imagine another reason for this meeting….

Obama :
I have all of your NSA and IRS files in this folder here. Now, sit down, STFU and do as I say or all of you and your families personal medical data will be released to the public”.

Don’t think that’s possible?
We’re talking about the man who converted National Park Rangers into Stormtroopers.

MichaelGabriel on October 9, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Kathleen Parker enthusiastically endorsed Obama in 2008. Why is she considered conservative by Ed Morissey (or anyone)? The RW media back their own liar posers. It’s a closed shop. If Ed endorses hillary will we keep calling this a conservative blog. No! So why is KParker still being called a conservative(by HA)?

There is a pattern. David Weigel was secretly making plotting against and disparaging conservatives while he was working as the “conservative” blogger for the WPost. Look up David Weigel and Jornolist. But conservative blogs(especially HA) gives him lots of links as if he is just another of the ‘conservative’ commentariat.

2 rules
1. If you endorse a socialist for president you are NOT conservative.
2. If you are part of a secret cabal of liberal jornolists plotting against conservatives then you are NOT a conservative.

BoxHead1 on October 9, 2013 at 2:24 PM

The only legitimate reason for any reporter (left, right or center) to meet OTR with a government official is because the topic will be something that temporarily needs to be kept secret, like an investigation or a military operation.

myiq2xu on October 9, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Given the off the record ground rules

 
Can I get a copy of these, please? I was still working off of the old “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech” one.

rogerb on October 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM

My only problem with the meeting is that AP and Ed weren’t invited.

Bloggers don’t count, apparently.

bobs1196 on October 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

The man shouldn’t be even able to take a whiz off the record. I don’t think he’s trustworthy enough to not do something shady even then.

Tuari on October 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Conservative GOPe-media journalists took off-the-record meeting with Obama


Everyone who attended is an adherent to the GOPe.

The GOPe is NOT conservative; it is self serving.

The SCOAMF held an off the record meeting with those who WANT Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to FAIL.

PolAgnostic on October 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM

know when a president is flipping me the bird on a daily basis. My “respect” for the office is long gone.

ziggyville on October 9, 2013 at 1:43 PM

CORRECTION: President flipping me the big bird.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/10/08/government-gives-445-million-to-corporation-for-public-broadcasting-on-first/

ziggyville on October 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Why? It’s equally stupid for conservative ‘journalists’ to do this.

Midas on October 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Axe on October 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Heh. Now that’s funny.

cornbred on October 9, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Costa tweeted after that it was an honor to meet Obama,

No, it f*cking isn’t an honor to meet that f*cking bastard tyrant.

Midas on October 9, 2013 at 2:53 PM

They are under no obligation to push Obama’s spin, after all, whether they report it as such or not.

And they’re under no obligation to sit there and let him berate and spin them ‘off the record’, either.

There is no point to this from a ‘journalism’ perspective – none. It is only about the President trying to browbeat if not outright threaten them in order to further influence how things are reported, to his benefit. That’s. f*cking. it.

Midas on October 9, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I can tell them all what they’ll hear from Obama — lies. That’s all he knows how to do.

sadatoni on October 9, 2013 at 3:12 PM

As one commenter in our Headlines thread points out, it didn’t seem to work with Krauthammer, anyway:

I am as sure as I could be from afar that there’s not much if anything at all that Barack Obama can do or say that’d slip by Krauthammer’s observational skills. So, of course, Obama’s ploy to pretend to converse with “conservative journalists” wouldn’t.

I’ve known a lot of Liberals like Obama, tried working with them, tried ‘relating’ to them. Nothing works, they’re as reliable as melted jello that’s infected with stinging barbs. They will never not betray you, malign you, exercise ongoing *need* to destroy others especially if they’re not Liberal.

P.S.: I don’t view any poll, though it’s likely due to all the addons on my browser.

Lourdes on October 9, 2013 at 3:12 PM

My guess as to what Obama “brought to the table” at this meeting:

Lie, lie, lie, lie, self-boasting, lie, self-promotion, anger at the American population who isn’t Leftwing, lie, lie, lie, insane rationalization about his immature, selfish, bad attitude, lie, lie, lie…concluding with a big smile for some distant camera in his mind.

Lourdes on October 9, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Title should read “Conservative Journalists and Kathleen Parker…”

slickwillie2001 on October 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Ha, I thought the same thing when I read the listing of names. I read as far as “Kathleen Parker” and made a big move away from the screen.

Lourdes on October 9, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Which ones got
-job offers from OBOZO
-promises to get a first class ride on Air Force 1
-access to classified information
-a promise of NO MORE DOJ spying on them

if they fully join in promoting the greatness of OBOZO like the fully corrupt socialist media stooges?

And which ones accepted the offers?

TeaPartyNation on October 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM

President Obama met Tuesday afternoon with a small group of conservative reporters, columnists and commentators for an off-the-record discussion.

Maybe Speaker Boehner can arrange an off-the-record meeting with these conservative reporters so they can tell him what Obama said off the record. It might help Boehner plan his strategery.

Steve Z on October 9, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Since it is only going to happen once. Tell all.

petunia on October 9, 2013 at 4:05 PM

The man shouldn’t be even able to take a whiz off the record. I don’t think he’s trustworthy enough to not do something shady even then.

Tuari on October 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Nobody else can take a whiz without seeing an ObamaCare ad on a Porta-Potty!

Steve Z on October 9, 2013 at 4:05 PM

What is the record anyway? Don’t quote me? Or this is super secret information and you will incur the wrath of God if you speak of it?

Off the record?

Just tell what he said… don’t quote him.

petunia on October 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Most transparent government ever.

petunia on October 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

I thought you said he met with conservative journalists… it appears more singular thann plural, with a couple middle-of-the-road-run-me-over-please types and one dipstick.

ajacksonian on October 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Fix the title to “Suspected RINOs officially out of the closet”, byline Secret meeting with beloved leader Obama uncovered.

mathewsjw on October 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

My only problem with the meeting is that AP and Ed weren’t invited.

Bloggers don’t count, apparently.

bobs1196 on October 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Juan Williams has already decreed that that be the case.

SailorMark on October 9, 2013 at 5:15 PM

I didn’t read the previous comments so maybe this has been said but the only reason Obama asks to meet with conservativs is for appearance sake.

Vince on October 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

4 the record the “soft ball questions” were FROM A LIST, planned, so anyone with the remote possibility of a question was NOT ASKED

mathewsjw on October 9, 2013 at 5:30 PM

What the hell is a Conservative Journalist? Shouldn’t they just be Journalists and report the facts?

Afterseven on October 9, 2013 at 5:53 PM

What are these “conservative journalists” you speak of? I’ve never heard of such a creature.

Jack Squat Bupkis on October 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM

I understand separate meetings for the ideological split in govt–but for the media, WTF is that all about, except a true confession the Leftards are sold out for The Won…

hillsoftx on October 9, 2013 at 6:36 PM

If any of these people had an iota of true Conservatism in their hearts, they would not have been invited; and sure as hell would not have gone. The Bamster doesn’t waste his time convincing anyone. The Manchurian Conservatives were there to get their marching orders.

squint on October 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Maybe, if they play their cards right, they can all get a front row seat at the next State of the Union Speech where Obama can castigate them personally before the entire country!

Roy Rogers on October 9, 2013 at 7:06 PM

What are these “conservative journalists” you speak of? I’ve never heard of such a creature.

Jack Squat Bupkis on October 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM

…I’ve been looking everywhere!

KOOLAID2 on October 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

They should release all the details of the meeting just like the Obama administration has done several times to the Republicans in supposed in camera negotiations/discussions.

andycanuck on October 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM

It’s time to start putting IRS people in prison and proceed with articles of impeachment.

John the Libertarian on October 9, 2013 at 9:18 PM

I remember after Obama was first elected and Kraut et al met with the Big O to be reassured he wasn’t a radical, or something. How’d that work out, eh?
I am fed up with “establishment” conservatives and their attempts to dress up mutton as lamb. Until the american people elect conservative constitutionalists with backbone, there will be increasing civil unrest and authoritarian crackdowns. I’m not optimistic.

Randy

williars on October 9, 2013 at 9:19 PM

I think it is great that Krauthammer got in there, maybe he did a quick Psyche eval on him.

Sven on October 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Anyone watch Special Report today?

Sven on October 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

“Conservative” journalists? By whose definition?

Let’s see…

Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, – Open borders advocate and Wall Street shill. Screws the Main street business people everytime.

National Review Washington editor Robert Costa – Inside the Beltway shmuck.

Washington Examiner columnist Byron York – Another inside the Beltway kool aid drinker.

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker – Has written 16 columns attacking Sarah Palin in the past 6 years.

Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer- Was a Democrat mouthpiece until the late 1980s.

I’ll be impressed if the god-king Obama invites Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Levin and Coulter for a talk.

By the way, why were they all white folks, the White House Communications Office doesn’t know of any black, hispanic, or asian columnists.

patch on October 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Worried about being seen as “churlish”? Is that the biggest issue here?

This is easy. What you say is that you would be pleased to attend a meeting with the president as soon as he allows veterans to visit the WWII memorial. And because we are journalists, it will be on the record.

To meet with him unconditionally is enabling future remarks by the president to undermine the GOP by claiming that republicans “privately” support his latest idiocy. Those attending the meeting are accessories.

virgo on October 10, 2013 at 12:23 AM

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

So, no. I voted no.

Grace_is_sufficient on October 10, 2013 at 5:29 AM

patch on October 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Yes.

If the conservative media did its job, then there would be few concerns about this. But the “conservative” media regularly counsels appeasement and surrender.

How long did it take Kristol and Lowry to come out against the Gang of 8 lies? You can count the number of conservative media who regularly pointed out the defects of that bill on one hand. Most predicted disaster for the Republican party if the bill wasn’t passed.

(York was among those who pointed out the defects of Gang of 8)

And these people still defend Rubio, Ryan, Christie…

We won’t even mention the shutdown….these people are lost in 1995 or something…

So when this group walks in to meet with that fool, do they bring their counsel of appeasement and surrender with them? Is that the
“filter” they use?

EastofEden on October 10, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Conservative and other truthful journalists are regularly mocked and demonized by this White House. Still, if the opportunity to sit down with a president presents itself, you take it. Doesn’t matter if he’s the worst president in American history. In fact, I’d consider that a career accomplishment. Few journalists or historians can boast of first hand accounts with tyrants and other notorious characters.

RobertE on October 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Comment pages: 1 2