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Obama Meets With Liberal Journalists!

President Obama had some prominent liberal journalists over for coffee Fridaymonths ago, ABC’s Jake Tapper reports (“POTUS has Coffee with Progressive Media Stars“).

An all-star list of progressive and liberal media folks came to the White House today to chat with President Obama over coffee in the Roosevelt Room.

The group chatted with the president about economic messaging, his agenda for 2012, the various campaign arguments against different GOP candidates, the desire among some Democrats for him to highlight his foreign policy accomplishments, fighting corporate influence and the “crappiness” of the Senate filibuster , as one attendee put it.

Those there included the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent, MSNBC anchors Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Hayes, the Nation’s editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, and stars of the interwebs Arianna Huffington, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, Faiz Shakir of ThinkProgress and Joy Reid of The Reid Report.

Keith Boyea, who’s by no means a Republican shill, believes this is “over the top” and argues “it is inappropriate for so called ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’ to have friendly little chats with politicians.”

Now, while I’ve never been invited to the White House, I went to an off-the-record session with Governor Romney a few months back and participated in quite a few blogger calls with Senator McCain last cycle. (I’ve also done a handful of such calls with Obama administration officials, too, but they were foreign policy oriented and the intent was somewhat different.)  So, perhaps I’m a bit biased here. Still, this sort of thing strikes me as perfectly reasonable.

While I’m not a fan of everyone on the invite list, several of them are solid journalists. I’m a big enough fan of Josh Marshall’s work to be a paying subscriber to his new TPMPrime venture and generally like Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes, and even Rachel Maddow. They’ll all call out Democrats, including President Obama, when they do something they find objectionable. At the same time, none of them pretend that they’re Objective Journalists; they’re all liberals of various stripes and openly wear a Team Blue jersey.

Because they’re all quite influential and sympathetic to the cause, it’s perfectly natural for the White House to reach out to them in the closing weeks of a tight re-election race. And they have an authentic journalistic interest in going to hear what the president and his team have to say about the issues that concern them.

Despite Marshall’s site being called “Talking Points Memo,” I can’t imagine that he’s going to tailor his coverage and commentary to the talking points the White House puts out. But Obama’s team might be able to persuade Marshall that something that appears from the outside to be monumentally stupid or outrageous actually makes sense given the team’s strategy. Or they might not. But it wouldn’t make much sense for someone running a major political site to turn down a chance to ask questions of the president. Hell, I’d have gone had I been invited.

Beyond the specific meeting, reporters frequently meet with the president in small groups. Obviously, the expectations are a little different, since straight reporters are seen as somewhat adversarial. (Whatever one’s views of “liberal media bias” charges, it’s just undeniable that scoops and buzz trump water carrying.) But there’s little doubt that part of the objective of giving personal touch access is to curry favor and build rapport.

UPDATE: So, it turns out that this is an old, old story. Someone tweeted it and spawned a discussion on it and I just saw the “19” and thought it was a story from Friday. The analysis is still relevant, though, so I’ll leave the story up.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    IOKIYAR

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  2. J-Dub says:

    All he really had to was watch their shows or read their posts to get their opinions unless it was more of a way to thank them for their support.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. CitizenEgg says:

    I guess my concern is that I didn’t hear about this until Monday. Seriously, was there a news blackout on the meeting and anything that might have been discussed there? Nobody asked any questions about Libya? The economy? Whether Obama will/should resign at tonight’s debate?

    I guess when you’ve been ignored and swept off the table as often as these water carriers have been by this administration, a little attention can go a long way to ensuring at least 2 more weeks of fawning coverage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  4. legion says:

    Here’s a fun one, James – compare and contrast this with Romney’s weekend beach football game between his staffers and the press corps that’s supposed to be covering him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  5. mattb says:

    These sorts of meetings aren’t anything new. GWB for example had at least two annual group meetings with conservative talkers (source: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/bush-welcomes-right-wing-talkers-west-wing-article-1.236543 ) and hosted Rush Limbaugh as a private guest at the White House (source: http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2007/08/03/rush_meets_with_president_bush3 ).

    Of course at the time, a number of liberal pundits complained about it. But this strikes me as a typical example of selective partisan outrage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  6. Nikki says:

    I’m with legion. I would love to get OTB’s analysis on the football game between the Romney staff and family and the press corps that covers them. Please also include a comparison with the McCain staff and press corps barbecue from 2008.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. SKI says:

    UPDATE: So, it turns out that this is an old, old story. Someone tweeted it and spawned a discussion on it and I just saw the “19″ and thought it was a story from Friday. The analysis is still relevant, though, so I’ll leave the story up.

    Can you change the front page “blurb” though? It still references Friday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obama Meets With Liberal Journalists!

    James, a more redundant post title (other than “FOX News is stupid!”) I have never read. Everybody already knows that all journalists are liberal….

    Take note…. If the last sentence is true…. What are the people at Fox News????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Dave A says:

    I’ve also done a handful of such calls with Obama administration officials, too, but they were foreign policy oriented and the intent was somewhat different.

    Are you willing/able to talk about that? I’m interested in hearing more about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. CitizenEgg says:

    @legion: Would you concede that there’s difference between down time with people spending time together vs inviting people over for some private chat?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  11. CitizenEgg says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well some of them are liberal, but not all. Can you make a similar statement about other networks, oh and 1 does not = some.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  12. legion says:

    @CitizenEgg: How about this: I concede there is a difference between a private chat – a full ten months ago – with invited media figures who are already publicly sympathetic to a particular cause and engaging in “down time”, as you call it, with a group of people that is arguably supposed to be reporting fairly on a candidate the very day before a major debate.

    Note, however, that I am not faulting the Romney campaign for this – this is a case of “hate the game, not the player” (literally), and Romney is just playing the game. It is the press corps that engaged in this frankly unprofessional display that completely undermines their credibility and perceived objectivity in any subsequent coverage of the man. When self-described “journalists” want to know why nobody has any respect for them these days, this is precisely why, and they have no one to blame for it but themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CitizenEgg: It is called sarcasm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. James Joyner says:

    @legion: I’m a little more concerned with pure reporters getting chummy with the candidates than I am with opinion journalists. Even there, though, I don’t really see anything wrong with it when it’s at the superficial level of playing volleyball. Four years ago, I defended John McCain’s schmoozing with the press on the Straight Talk Express, figuring that whatever preferential treatment was gained was a fair trade for the press having a better understanding of the man in whole. I’d prefer a big picture treatment from the press to the current series of one-offs.

    @Dave A: It’s just been a handful of times. Some, like the phone conference after the New START deal was announced, were on the record and I blogged about them at the time. Others were off-the-record events, mostly related to my work at the Atlantic Council but on a couple occasions related to OTB. But I saw them as genuine attempts to get the word out to wonks on stories that the mainstream press would likely under- or mis-cover rather than attempts to game the system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Andre Kenji says:

    Obama also did meetings with Conservative pundits, including George Will.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Dave A says:

    @James Joyner:
    Ah interesting. Thanks for responding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. swbarnes2 says:

    @James Joyner:

    I defended John McCain’s schmoozing with the press on the Straight Talk Express, figuring that whatever preferential treatment was gained was a fair trade for the press having a better understanding of the man in whole.

    Understand the “man as a whole”? Why the utter refusal to evaluate politicians only by the policies they supported and support?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0