Barack Obama demanded that an Iowa editorial board keep an interview with him entirely off the record, and not just any Iowa newspaper, either, but the Des Moines Register, the state’s most influential publication — and just fourteen days before the election. Mitt Romney had no trouble granting the DMR an on-the-record interview, giving them almost 40 minutes at a supporter’s farm and allowing the newspaper to release the audio of the conversation. The Leader of the Free World apparently didn’t have enough confidence to allow the DMR to use the material, which brings up the question of why they bothered to do the interview at all (via Katrina Trinko at The Corner):
It was a “personal call” to the Register’s publisher and editor, we were told. The specifics of the conversation could not be shared because it was off-the-record.
Of course, we immediately lobbied his campaign staff in Des Moines for a formal, on-the-record call. We were told it was not their decision; it came from the White House. We requested that the White House be asked to reverse course so whatever the president shared with us could be reviewed by voters and our readers.
No reason was given for the unusual condition of keeping it private.
We relented and took the call. How could we not? It’s the leader of the free world on line one.
I’d give them that one. When the President is on Line 1, you take the call. And then you report the fact that he won’t go on the record with your newspaper.
Bear in mind what Obama’s schedule looks like this week. He’s appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight, and doing a 30-minute MTV interview on Friday. Why will Obama go on the record with entertainment outlets but not with news organizations? The obvious takeaway is that Obama is much more willing to discuss Nicki Minaj on the record than his economic record with reporters and editors who can call him out on his false representations of the economy, and prefers “boxers or briefs” questions to whether or not he was briefed on what happened in Benghazi.
If the Leader of the Free World is too afraid to meet with real reporters, that tells us we need a new Leader of the Free World — one who actually acts like a leader.
Update: Our fearless leader has apparently flip-flopped on his demand:
Obama Campaign's Jen Psaki just said Des Moines Register given OK to report on off-the-record conversation yesterday with Pres Obama.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 24, 2012
Just like Obama’s second term agenda, it’s too little and too late to reverse the impression made by this already.