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Obama Caves to Pressure, Releases DMR Interview

President Obama has released a transcript of his interview with the Des Moines Register, after the paper complained that he refused to do the interview on-the-record. From the DMR editor:

Typically, these visits are an opportunity for us to ask questions, get details on platforms and positions and to contrast each opponent’s views. These exchanges are weighed when our five-member editorial board – which also relies heavily on independent and extensive research — meets and drafts our endorsement editorial.

Romney appeared before our board Oct. 9. We literally met in a barn on a family farm owned by Jeff Koch, just west of Van Meter. …

But the audio was digitally recorded and posted on DesMoinesRegister.com.

We repeatedly — and politely — have asked Obama 2012 campaign officials in Iowa and Chicago for the same access to the president. I believe it earned serious consideration. But despite at least 28 campaign stops and 11 days in our state, we never could convince his team to carve out a few moments for our editorial board — in our office, on the trail or even in a barn somewhere in Iowa.

The actual interview is a dull rehash of the usual campaign spin, but Obama’s media strategy is revealing. Why not go on the record for an editorial interview? It’s standard. Refusing makes it look like Obama’s worried about getting hit with a tough question, either by DMR or another newspaper. If the president stayed off-the-record for the Register’s editorial board interview, what other papers has he done the same with? Is this a general rule for the campaign?

Obama got the benefit of a one-on-one conversation with editors he wants an endorsement from, but didn’t have to take any of the risk. Agreeing to release the interview transcript after the fact (and only after DMR complained), means nothing. He knew the interview was all softballs after it was over, but obviously couldn’t have predicted that beforehand. Journalists might want to keep this is mind next time Obama touts his record of transparency or accuses his opponent of being less than upfront.


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