Progressive journos hang with Obama: Anything wrong with that?

December 10, 2012

Progressive Journalists Hang With Obama

Erik Wemple

By:   Erik Wemple

Originally Appeared in:  The Washington Post

The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington is generally forthcoming about her enterprise and its journalism.

Except, that is, when she’s invited to an off-the-record meeting in the White House with President Obama. “Since it was off the record, she’s unable to discuss,” responded Huffington Post spokesman Rhoades Alderson when asked whether his boss could pick up the phone.

The denial prompted an appeal from the Erik Wemple Blog, noting that we merely wanted to ask Huffington boring journo-process questions about merely attending an off-the-record talk with the president of the United States. “Understood but still same answer,” came the response from Alderson

Same kinda gross answer, that is. Journalists make a profession of agitating for openness, for the sharing of information, for speaking with public officials and reporting back. In this case, though, attendees aren’t doing a lot of reporting back. Most of MSNBC’s prime time lineup — Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell — attended the Tuesday session, yet MSNBC won’t talk about it. Two individuals from the opinions section of The Washington Post — Jonathan Capehart and Greg Sargent — had seats at the table but won’t tell a dear colleague what went down. A spokeswoman for Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, another alleged attendee, gave this response: “Since the meeting was off the record, Josh is not available to speak about it.” Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame also allegedly took part and also won’t talk: “Sorry, but I don’t discuss who I do and don’t meet with. Thanks, markos,” he e-mailed to the Erik Wemple Blog.

Now that’s compliance for you. The blackout from these “influential progressives” –  as the White House so boosterishly calls them — raises an historic prospect. Could this be the first White House meeting with journalists in which more information about the proceedings came from the White House than from the journalists? After all, the White House did at least issue this statement:

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