Once again I'm going to live-blog the daily press briefing. I'll be focused on the reporters' questions, not so much Gibbs's answers. I also caution this is a rough transcript and may contain errors. I hope to render as accurate a depiction as possible of the questions asked and who's asking them.
As a little twist, I'll also try Twittering some comments on my Twitter page, @KenShepherd.
The presser was scheduled for 3:45 p.m. ET, but is late getting off the ground. Gibbs entering room at 3:53 p.m. ET
15:54 Gibbs gives announcements including week-ahead schedule "better late than never" he adds.
15:54, female reporter: Did the president come away with any specific reason to think Republicans will support the stimulus? Was there anything he agreed to put in the bill to get Republican support?
15:58, same reporter with followup, says way Gibbs describes it makes it sound like Obama is arguing for the status quo stimulus bill, not getting changes to it.
15:59, Bill Plante: It seems more aspirational. Public comments we hear are more predictable. Republicans accuse Dems of it being too larded up, Democrats say there's too much tax cuts... I don't hear enough from either side that there's compromise in the works.
Checking out the official Web page for the Obama administration today, I noticed that the White House has removed the "pool reports" entry from the "Briefing Room" lineup roughly six days after the White House press corps made clear it would not fork over the pool reports to the White House. The page itself, which of course lacks any pool reports, is still accessible here.
As of noon this 27th day of January -- the 7th of the brilliant glory of the Obama era -- the daily press briefings are still lacking on whitehouse.gov. See my January 23 blog post about that here.
Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham added her thoughts in a post to her magazine's blog yesterday, noting that the absence of press briefings is a continuation of the Obama's online communication strategy which was "built for message control, not openness" (emphasis mine):
Update/Closing thoughts (14:34): Hearst columnist Helen Thomas continues to make a cartoon of herself in her using her perch to parrot ultra-left-wing talking points. Her question today was on why President Obama wants to send troops into Afghanistan to "kill more people."Without doubt it was the loopiest left-wing question posed today. Oddly enough, given her history of bias, one of the best queries today came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who questioned the wisdom of pegging hopes of economic recovery on so-called "green jobs."
About to live-blog the White House daily press briefing. I'm focusing chiefly on the questions from the journalists. I'm watching via Fox News.
13:42: Gibbs: our e-mail system isn't working so well, apologizes for that to press corps.
Questions from reporters follow:
13:44, female reporter: Can you describe a little more fully about Amb. Rice's comments on mid-east diplomacy
13:45, female reporter: So you can't say when the diplomacy [with Iran] will begin or how?
13:46, Chuck Todd, NBC News: When are you guys going to announce a housing plan? Where is the money? Is it part of TARP?
13:47,Todd's followup: Does that mean it will not be part of the $350 billion?
13:48, Todd: Going to encourage banks to lend more?
Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs is conducting his second-ever press conference right now. Below you'll find my live-blogging of the questions. I can't promise verbatim rendering of the questions, but should the Obama administration post a full transcript later on, I'll link to that as well. [see related post]
I'm watching the video via MSNBC.
13:20 ET: Unid'd female reporter: This morning this event with the bipartisan leaders that the president had... but will there come a point when the president, and democratic leaders in the congress decide to have a vote whether Republicans like it or not?
13:21 ET, same reporter asks follow-up question on bipartisan cooperation
13:22 ET, male reporter asks about economic stimulus plans
13:25: What kind of reassurances can you give on the economic package. And on Pakistan, did the president consult with the Pakistan government on the strike.
Gibbs replies that he won't address the airstrikes or other military operations.
13:25, Major Garrett, Fox News Channel: You will never speak of any military operation taken by the United States?
Gibbs replies he won't discuss those airstrikes at today's briefing
As a search of whitehouse.gov caches through the site archive.org shows, the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations often featured transcripts of their daily press briefings easily accessible on the Web site. In the case of the Bush administration, this writer can attest that transcripts of daily briefings often appeared within a few hours after having concluded.
But, as the Obama White House page declares, "Change Has Come to America," with the new administration failing to have a place on the White House Web page for daily press briefings.
The redesigned Web home for the Obama administration went live at noon on Tuesday, and contains a "Briefing Room" page that contains seven sections, including a blog, a weekly video address archive, and an archive for press pool reports, but no section for the daily press briefings.
What's more, the press pool reports section as of Friday at 10:45 a.m. ET remains empty and may ultimately end up being scrapped. As Washington Post's Anne Kornblut reported yesterday on the paper's Web site, the White House press corps is rather possessive of its pool reports and won't make them available to the White House for publication:
Whoops. It's turning into quite the morning for gaffes on the NBC/MSNBC family of networks. As noted here, during the Today opening, Meredith Vieira stumbled onto the sensitive subject of Matt Lauer's marital history. Then, during Morning Joe's 8 AM hour, Joe Scarborough accidentally dropped an f-bomb, provoking a protracted apolog-a-thon. [H/t reader P.C.]
[Warning: video contains unexpurgated F-bomb 20 seconds in].
During a break, Time's Jay Carney had apparently told a story of some politico who had used the f-word. Back on the air, Scarborough had actually been praising the discipline of the Obama team members. It was in describing them as people who, in contrast with the person Carney had mentioned, were careful with their words and deeds, that Joe's internal edit button went on the fritz.
On Tuesday’s Hannity and Colmes program top Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs displayed the latest example of the Democratic campaign attempting to whitewash their opponents. When co-host Sean Hannity asked him about Obama’s connections to William Ayers, Gibbs shot back, "Are you anti-Semitic?" He then changed the entire subject of the discussion to whether Hannity was anti-Semitic for recently interviewing Andy Martin, who in 2000, accused George W. Bush of using cocaine, has been a candidate for various offices in several states, and is accused by the Washington Post of starting the rumor that Obama is a Muslim.
This charge by Gibbs caused a three-plus minute back-and-forth argument in which the Obama spokesman continued to charge that Hannity was anti-Semitic, and also asked at one point, "Why am I not to believe that everyone who works for the network is anti-Semitic because Sean Hannity gave a platform to a man who thinks Jews are slimy?" The argument was finally stopped by co-host Alan Colmes, who defended Hannity as "not anti-Semitic" [see video at right; direct link to video here].
Update | Hail Halperin: See incredible video at foot. Pressed by Mark Halperin, Robert Gibbs admits Obama continued to associate with Ayers after learning his past.
H/t Melody N. An Obama spokesman adamantly insists that in 1995 Barack Obama was the most clueless man in Chicago. Andrea Mitchell thinks talk of Barack Obama's ties to an unrepentant terrorist is a "distraction." Rudy Giuliani doesn't. Mitchell is happy to take the New York Times's word for the fact that Obama and William Ayers weren't close. Rudy, not so much.
After the former NYC mayor made the case on today's Morning Joe as to why Ayers matters, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs came on, called Giuliani a liar, and flatly denied that—when beginning his political career in his living room—Obama knew Ayers was a terrorist.
To kick off coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, "Today" host Matt Lauer actually posed some challenging questions to Barack Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs. The NBC host cited examples of newly minted vice presidential candidate Joe Biden praising John McCain's leadership and pointedly asked, "So, now, if Joe Biden goes on the attack against John McCain, isn't he going to come off sounding like just another politician who will do and say anything to get elected?"
Referring to reports that Biden has been warned to stay on message and not go off on verbose tangents, Lauer quizzed, "Can you take me through that warning? Who had the talk with Joe Biden?" After not getting an actual answer from Gibbs, he followed-up: "Well, but as communications director, it's your job to manage the message now coming out of both of these candidates, so wouldn't you have been involved in that discussion?"
Of course, the morning program did feature some typical examples of liberal talking points. A segment with reporter Ann Curry highlighted a clip of liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin discussing Barack Obama's speech and spinning, "He's still not that well known in parts of the country and because he [Obama] has been caricatured by the other side, his speech is probably more important than most acceptance speeches are."
David Shuster surely knows better. Wherever you come down on the issue of who's playing the race card, one thing is glaringly, blindingly, incandescently obvious: when Barack Obama says McCain will point out Obama doesn't look like the other guys on the currency, the Dem candidate is doing much more than making the innocuous point that he is the first black major-party presidential nominee. Yet that is precisely how Shuster chose to misinterpret Obama's remark on today's "Morning Joe." Fortunately, Tiki Barber was there to run to daylight through the gaping hole in Shuster's line of logic.
The show began with a clip of Obama intoning his stock line that Bush and McCain will try to "make you scared of me" by pointing out, among other things, "he dudn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills. You know?"
It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
Denying the obvious, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs tells reporters that tricking them into flying to Chicago on June 5th while Obama remained in DC to meet with Hillary "wasn't an attempt to deceive in any way." [Screencap from Morning Joe.]
"An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country."—attributedto Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639), British diplomat.
If Sir Henry were around today, he might offer a corollary: a communications director is a man sent to meet with the media to fib for the good of his candidate. In the current campaign, the tactic's most transparent practitioner would seem to be Robert Gibbs, communications director for Barack Obama.
As I noted here, Gibbs recently had the chutzpah [if that's the right word for the man from Auburn, Alabama] to claim that Barack Obama's resignation from his controversial church was "a deeply personal, not a political decision." Rig-h-h-h-t.
Gibbs, the bland face of brazenness, was at it again last night, this time denying the blatantly obvious: that the campaign had tricked the press into flying to Chicago while Obama remained behind in DC to meet with Hillary.
Who says there's no humor in politics? Obama communications director Robert Gibbs went on ABC's This Week today, and in one of the better deadpan bits since Buster Keaton actually said that Barack Obama's decision to quit the Trinity United Church of Christ was "not political."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: In Philadelphia, just in April, Senator Obama said of Reverend Wright "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." Now he's cut all ties to Reverend Wright, and left his church. What is it a mistake to wait this long?
ROBERT GIBBS: No, George. I think obviously what Barack Obama made in the past few days is a deeply personal, not a political decision. And as you heard the reasoning, he made that decision for two reasons. One, even guest speakers that were at Trinity, their views were ascribed to him even though he didn't hold those views, and secondly, the members of Trinity couldn't do what members of a church do, and that is, sit in quiet reflection and worship God.