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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Off the record

Posted by on March 29 at 12:10 PM

President Bush is now holding off the record tea parties with journalists in order to improve his public image.

“It was very pleasant, he seemed very thoughtful and frank,” said Stephan Dinan, a Washington Times reporter and one of about six reporters who took part in a session Monday afternoon. “It was on a wide range of stuff.”

Monday’s gathering also included reporters from the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and Cox Newspapers, according to sources.

Some papers might see these off-the-record intimate gatherings as counterproductive, such as The New York Times:

“The Times has declined this opportunity after weighing the potential benefits to our readers against the prospect of withholding information from them about the discussion with Mr. Bush,” Times Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman said in Tuesday’s edition. “As a matter of policy and practice, we would prefer when possible to conduct on-the-record interviews with public officials.”

I think the New York Times nailed it: Journalists should be more concerned with getting Bush to comment on the record, than privately chewing the fat with him—especially when his approval ratings are at an all time low. So what’s with all the off-the-record chit chat, and requests for anonymity?

Several reporters declined to comment on the record, but said they had been called personally by Press Secretary Scott McClellan to participate in the chats, some getting invited just hours ahead of time. “It doesn’t surprise me because presidents do this,” said one reporter invited to a session on Tuesday who requested anonymity. “Clinton did it toward the end of his second term. A little bit of legacy-building, post-impeachment, post-Monica.”

Bush’s strength is in charming small groups of people. What he lacks for in intelligence, he seems to make up for in charisma—maybe it’s his innocent (vacant?) wide-eyed stare, or his infectious giggle. Either way, I find it disappointing that reporters are attending these closed door tea parties, and then declining to comment on them.

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But if you get invited, you should go--just a chance to steal some White House silverware and to look the guy in the eye and say, "off the record, I think you're a tool."


My father met Bush several years ago. According to my dad, who did not suffer fools lightly, Bush was extremely charismatic and personable. It just goes to show that you don't have to be intelligent, competent, or even just a decent human being, to be a people person.

I couldn't agree more. "Off-the-record" is an utter waste of time.

I think this is a conflict of intrest for the reporters who go to lunch. When it comes time to asking questions to hold Bush accountable for all his lies, he could very well bring up comments such as i.e. I thought we were friends, you ate bagles and lox with me at lunch recently, therefore I do not need to answer your question. where BFF.

Dear Cienna,

Yeah, this was news -- when I saw it two days ago.

U R still very, very dumb.
Please grow up, little girl.




I bet you my invitation's in the mail already. Moreover, I'll save you a silver spoon.

Dear Shantelle: Wow, you saw this a whole 48 hours ago?? Clearly, it should be relegated to the history bin.

If you hate Cienna so much, toilet-paper her house or something. Your posts just make you look like an asshole.

Dear Shantelle,

Fuck right off.



Dear Cienna, David and Hannah:

My, my. What thin skins we have. What is the adage I am thinking of? Oh yes: You can dish it out, but you can't take it.

(Not to mention gutless).

Hugs and kisses,


Folks at the Stranger - you can't tell me that special thing you have going with Nick and Peter isn't based on a lot of social schmooze? Clubby and chumy - smiles and charm abounding.

I hate Bush, but it is not news that all political bigwigs work to cultivate media cows for later milking.

Why would any one think Bushie is less than charming? It is part of his class, and is all he has ever needed. Daddy, Mommie and charm. Made him President.

You old timers at the Stranger need to give this newbie something real to work on. The barbed comments are coming from people who are responding to bad fluff.

I also suggest Bush is drunk a lot. Plus the meds from Cheney's doctor.


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