On more than one occasion, President Obama has quietly met with a chosen few in the media. These off-the-record meetings were notable in that conservative journalists were seldom included.
On Tuesday, the tables were turned somewhat as Obama invited a small number of conservative reporters, columnists and commentators to the White House for a private chat, but is the president looking for an edge in the ongoing budget impasse with Congress?
Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of Breitbart News, called the meeting “a clear attempt to woo largely establishment conservative commentators who have loudly opposed the GOP’s current government shutdown strategy.”
Those in attendance Tuesday include Charles Krauthammer, a Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist; Paul Gigot, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor; Robert Costa, the National Review’s Washington editor; syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker; and Washington Examiner columnist Byron York, a source with knowledge of the meeting told Politico.
At a minimum, the meeting would suggest that Obama is nervous about the hand he holds in his showdown with the Republican-led House. A comment made by Krauthammer after the meeting, on Fox News’ “Special Report,” is telling:
“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. He can’t afford to be remembered as the first president who defaulted or allowed, you know, the conditions in which it can happen.”
The White House declined to comment on yesterday’s meeting.
In an email to Huffington Post, White House press secretary Jay Carney said: “In addition to giving press conferences and interviews, the President meets on occasion with groups of reporters and columnists for off-the-record discussions. We don’t provide lists of participants.”
Tuesday was not the first time Krauthammer and Gigot have met privately with the president, as both were on hand at a dinner held at George Will’s home in January 2009.