President Obama Holds Off-The-Record Meeting With Conservative Journalists

Obama's Off-The-Record Meeting With Conservative Journalists

NEW YORK -- President Barack Obama met Tuesday with a small group of conservative reporters, columnists and commentators at the White House for an off-the-record discussion.

The group, according to a source familiar with the meeting, included Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, National Review Washington editor Robert Costa, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker and Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer.

The meeting took place shortly after Obama held a White House press conference in the briefing room Tuesday afternoon. For over an hour, Obama fielded questions from White House reporters, with the focus on the government shutdown and looming debt default. Later, he met with the conservative journalists for 90 minutes in the Roosevelt Room.

Costa tweeted afterward that it was an honor to meet with Obama, but did not elaborate on the discussion. Given the off-the-record ground rules, it's unlikely that attendees will discuss exactly what was said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney thanked Costa on Twitter for coming by the White House, but in an email to HuffPost declined to discuss the meeting or its attendees.

"In addition to giving press conferences and interviews, the President meets on occasion with groups of reporters and columnists for off-the-record discussions," Carney said. "We don't provide lists of participants."

Obama has met numerous times with opinion leaders, from newspaper columnists to cable news hosts, in order to get his administration's point of view across in a private setting. The groups often include mostly liberal or moderate media figures.

In August, Obama sat down with several members of the New York Times editorial board and some of the paper's top columnists, including conservatives David Brooks and Ross Douthat.

And Obama broke bread with several conservative media figures just prior to taking office in January 2009. That dinner, which took place at conservative columnist George Will's house, included Krauthammer, Gigot, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Obama presumably has more time than usual this week to field questions from journalists given that his planned trip to Asia was called off due to the shutdown. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the president has had to improvise his schedule, since many White House staffers are furloughed and there are fewer opportunities to hold events. As a result, Obama has provided more access than usual to the press.

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