‘Strategy to save a failed presidency’: Obama schmoozes media behind closed doors

roosevelt room

In another attempt to manipulate the media message machine, President Obama held yet another private meeting with select journalists before last week’s prime-time TV address.

Obama informed the country on Wednesday that he plans to ramp up military action against Islamic State militants who control large swaths of Iraq and Syria. For a president who has repeatedly said he was elected “to end wars, not start them,” he’s apparently decided it’s critical to have the media on board.

The off-the-record meeting took place earlier that day in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, and included more than a dozen influential journalists, the Huffington Post reported.

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Of course, the Obama-friendly New York Times and Washington Post were well represented, with several writers from each newspaper on hand.

A source told the Post that those present included:

New York Times columnists David Brooks, Tom Friedman and Frank Bruni and editorial writer Carol Giacomo; The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, Eugene Robinson and Ruth Marcus; The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins and George Packer; The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and Peter Beinart; The New Republic’s Julia Ioffe; Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll; The Wall Street Journal’s Jerry Seib; and The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky.

This is the second time Obama was in a New York state of mind when faced with military action. He held a private meeting with The Times in 2013, during the infamous “red-line” debacle with Syria.

This time, on Aug. 29, the president sat down with Times Editor Andy Rosenthal and other members of the editorial board, along with Times opinion columnists David Brooks, Gail Collins and Ross Douthat, according to the Huffington Post.

Obama also met privately with a few chosen reporters during the Obamacare website rollout fiasco, including a couple hosts from the pro-Obama network MSNBC, Breitbart News reported. And he met with a number of conservative journalists – including the well-regarded Charles Krauthammer — during the government shutdown.

Such meetings may appear inappropriate, but there’s nothing illegal about them, and Obama is not the first president to employ such tactics. When his predecessor did the same thing, the far-left Daily Kos called the attempt to influence the media “a time-honored strategy to save a failed presidency.”

How’s this for ironic: When invited to one such meeting in March 2006, The New York Times declined.

“As a matter of policy and practice, we would prefer when possible to conduct on-the-record interviews with public officials,” Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman said in a statement at the time, according to the newspaper.


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