White House holds Benghazi briefing with reporters -- off the record; Update: More whistleblowers coming? Update: "Deep background"

If there’s one thing you want to do when accusations are flying about an attempted cover up and a disinterested, collusive media, it’s holding an off-the-record briefing.

Time for the team to huddle.

The White House held an off-the-record briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon to discuss recent revelations about the Benghazi investigation, sources familiar with the meeting tell POLITICO.

The meeting began around 12:45 p.m. and postponed the daily, on-the-record White House press briefing to 1:45 p.m. White House press secretary Jay Carney did not respond to a request for confirmation of the meeting.

The off-the-record session was announced to reporters in the wake of an ABC News report showing that White House and State Dept. officials were involved in revising the now-discredited CIA talking points about the attack on Benghazi.

Were they discussing troop movements or something? What reason could there be to go off the record, and why would the press agree to it? If there’s classified material involved, just redact the bits that can’t be publicized. Or maybe I have this wrong; maybe the reason Carney wanted to huddle is because Ron Fournier was onto something this morning in sensing that the White House is trying to point a finger at Hillary and the State Department for redacting the first draft of the CIA’s talking points. For obvious reasons, if Carney wants to steer them in that direction, he wouldn’t want to do it on the record. Then again, there’s no reason to task the White House press secretary with that; if Team O wants to push Hillary under the bus, they’ll do it the old-fashioned way, through anonymous leaks. So again, why is this briefing off the record?

Fun sidenote via Ari Fleischer:


While we’re on the subject of media collusion, what on earth does this mean?

“Scandal is a strong word,” Roberts replied, to which Scarborough asked, “What is a couple notches below a scandal? Kerfuffle? Four people are dead.”

“The first ambassador killed since 1979 — it is serious,” he continued. “You talk about overplaying your hand. If a lot of people on the far right hadn’t overplayed their hand on Benghazi and were screaming — before they knew what they were screaming about — I think we would all be much harder on the administration right now.”


Because the “far right” was screaming about Benghazi, you couldn’t judge for yourself whether it was a bona fide scandal? Or is he saying that he could judge, but chose not to because any scandal that might potentially vindicate the “far right” isn’t worth exploring unless/until there’s been six-to-eight months of revelations?

I’ll leave you with this from loyal Clintonite water-carrier Paul Begala, the same hack troll who defended Harry Reid’s nasty conspiratorial smear about Mitt Romney’s tax returns last year: “I think the way [Hillary] has dealt with this has been admirable. And Republicans are treading awfully close to the tin foil hat.”

Update: Did this come up at the briefing? I guess we’ll never know.

Update: As if by magic, now that there’s been an outburst about it online and on Twitter, the “off the record” meeting has transformed into one that’s “deep background,” whatever that means. Dylan Byers explains:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the meeting as “off the record.” Though the existence of the meeting was off the record, it was conducted on “deep background.”

UPDATE (3:05 p.m.): I asked Earnest to explain the meaning of “deep background,” as defined by the White House, for my readers. He emails:

“Deep background means that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can’t be quoted.”

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