Politics

Obama's Pet Columnists

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Look who's coming to dinner! |||

Politico has an article out about President Barack Obama's increasingly frequent off-the-record White House meetings with various opinion journalists and columnists. Here are some named names:

Participants vary depending on the issue of the day, but there are regulars. [David] Brooks, the New York Times columnist, is a frequent guest, as is Joe Klein of Time Magazine. From The Washington Post: E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Ezra Klein and Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor. On foreign policy: the Post's David Ignatius, Bloomberg View's Jeffrey Goldberg, and the Times' Thomas Friedman. He also holds the occasional meeting with conservatives. This month, he met with Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, and other influential representatives from the right.

Also named are New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. No, Reason hasn't been invited. Sniff.

More details:

He also likes talking to the people he likes to read. The president is a voracious consumer of opinion journalism. Most nights, before going to bed, he'll surf the Internet, reading the columnists whose opinions he values. One of the great privileges of the presidency is that, when so inclined, he can invite these columnists to his home for meetings that can last as long as two-and-a-half hours.

Especially when you're wrong. |||

"It's not an accident who he invites: He reads the people that he thinks matter, and he really likes engaging those people," said one reporter with knowledge of the meetings. "He reads people carefully — he has a columnist mentality — and he wants to win columnists over," said another.

These anonymous quotes from the journalists invited to these off-the-record bull sessions are kind of hilarious.

Sometimes, the aide will then reach out to the columnist to ask his or her opinion, which has had the unintended effect of spurring the columnist to write a piece expressing his thoughts on that very issue.

"It's like, 'The president wants to know what you think about 'x.' So you go, 'I guess I better figure out what I think about 'x,'" one columnist explained. […]

Said a columnist who has attended multiple meetings, "When you can write your column with absolute surety, knowing that what you're saying is a true reflection of what the President of the United States is thinking, how do you not do that?"

Read the whole emetic here.