On Wednesday of this week, President Obama held a “town hall” meeting before an audience of about 200 people at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. The focus of the meeting was health care reform, and the photo-op moment came when the President hugged 53 year old Debby Smith, after she tearfully described how difficult it has been for her to get treatment for a recently-discovered tumor.
All in all, it was yet another Obama White House stage production, complete with pre-screened questions and an audience hand-picked from groups generally considered to be supportive of the President’s political agenda.
From The Washington Post.
The president called randomly on three audience members. All turned out to be members of groups with close ties to his administration: the Service Employees International Union, Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America, which is a part of the Democratic National Committee. White House officials said that was a coincidence.
Uh-huh. Funny how often those “coincidences” seem to happen at Democrat-orchestrated events, isn’t it?
And speaking of The Washington Post, The Politico learned yesterday that the Post had planned an exclusive “salon” meeting at the home of the newspaper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth, for lobbyists and association executives interested in meeting face-to-face with “those powerful few” who oil the wheels of the DC bureaucracy, including Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the Post’s own “health care reporting and editorial staff.” The price? A mere $25,000 to $250,000 “sponsorship” of the event.
Weymouth said the paper had planned a series of dinners with participation from the newsroom “but with parameters such that we did not in any way compromise our integrity. Sponsorship of events, like advertising in the newspaper, must be at arm’s length and cannot imply control over the content or access to our journalists. At this juncture, we will not be holding the planned July dinner and we will not hold salon dinners involving the newsroom. ”
She made it clear however, that The Post, which lost $19.5 million in the first quarter, sees bringing together Washington figures as a future revenue source. “We do believe that there is a viable way to expand our expertise into live conferences and events that simply enhances what we do – cover Washington for Washingtonians and those interested in Washington,” she said. ” And we will begin to do live events in ways that enhance our reputation and in no way call into question our integrity.”
Oh well … at least JournoList is still free, and still running.