White House Holds Secret “Off The Record” Team Huddle With Reporters Before Benghazi Press Briefing

Guest Post by Mara Zebest

White House holds secret “off the record team huddle” with reporters on Benghazi. Note the correction in which politico states the original phrase “off the record” is an error (wink, wink) even though the meeting was “off the record“.

Obviously one of the items discussed was the WH issued new coded term for “off the record”.

OLD SCHOOL media term: “Off the Record

NEW SCHOOL WH issued media term: “Deep Background


Politico reports the following:

The White House held a “deep background” briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon to discuss recent revelations about the Benghazi investigation, sources familiar with the meeting tell POLITICO.

The meeting was conducted on “deep background,” according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, but sources told POLITICO that the existence of the meeting was “off the record.” The meeting began around 12:45 p.m. and postponed the daily, on-the-record White House press briefing until mid-afternoon.

The session was announced to reporters in the wake of an ABC News report showing that White House and State Dept. officials were involved in revising the now-discredited CIA talking points about the attack on Benghazi.

Emails obtained by ABC News show that State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland requested that the CIA scrub references to an Al Qaeda-linked group, which, Nuland told White House officials, “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the meeting as “off the record.” Though the existence of the meeting was off the record, it was conducted on “deep background.”

UPDATE (3:05 p.m.): I asked Earnest to explain the meaning of “deep background,” as defined by the White House, for my readers. He emails:

Deep background means that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can’t be quoted.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): White House press secretary Jay Carney addressed the meeting at today’s public briefing. He said reporters from 14 news organizations were present, including television, print and online.

Read more here. Guess “deep background” is what they call it these days when the WH gives out their talking points memo on how the media is expected to spin the Benghazi reports designed to insulate and protect the Obama Administration.

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