by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon highlights an Obama administration scheme to use starstruck local reporters for the president’s political purposes.
The White House is hoping to use local reporters to advance the prospects of Democratic Senate candidates running against Republican incumbents.
President Obama hosted a handful of local journalists at the White House on Monday. Each reporter was granted four minutes with the president as well as off-the-record sessions with White House spokesman Josh Earnest and a “surprise” visit from Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. All of the invitees came from states in which Democrats hope to retake Republican-held Senate seats, including Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.
WMUR reporter Josh McElveen documented the setup in a Monday post that emphasized the political motive behind the meeting. Earnest directed the reporter’s attention to the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans have delayed holding hearings on the nomination, saying that the Senate should wait until the November election to consider a nominee.
“I’d like to think my invite to the White House for an interview with the president is the result of being a respected, fair journalist. Or at least it’s because of my sparkling personality and quick wit,” McElveen wrote. “The fact is, every reporter in this White House holding room (they call it the Map Room) is from a state in which an incumbent Senate Republican is up for re-election. In New Hampshire, of course, that is Kelly Ayotte.”
McElveen’s brief interview began with Obama attacking Ayotte over the judicial nomination. …
… The Obama administration used a similar tactic in his 2012 reelection campaign, inviting influential local reporters for meetings with the president. This tactic had mixed results.