Thursday, March 20, 2014

Current Events - March 20, 2014

The Obama Scandal Bracket 2014 — by Jon Gabriel

Since nothing else is going on in the world, President Obama went on ESPN today to unveil his annual NCAA bracket.
The President’s “Barack-etology” always gets big buzz from the media, unlike his administration's growing mountain of scandals. Wouldn’t it be convenient to organize the bad news into a format the average reporter can follow?
Why bet on the NCAA when you can bet on America's future? Enjoy the Obama Scandal Bracket, updated for March Madness 2014!

First Lady Takes Her Mother & Daughters to China – But American Press is Shut Off from Visit

By Caroline Schaeffer
We may be paying for Michelle Obama to bring her mother and daughters to China, but don’t expect to hear anything about it. The First Lady will not be accompanied by the press, and there are no interviews scheduled.
Mrs. Obama is making the trek with her mother and her two daughters, and the White House is justifying the lack of press coverage by emphasizing that this trip represents a “person-to-person exchange” to emphasize the importance both countries place on education.
The Administration is also justifying the large number of family members traveling with the most bogus cop-out ever by saying that it’s a matter of culture.
via The New York Times:
Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff and a first-generation Chinese-American, said a multigenerational visit would be appreciated by the Chinese, who value tradition.
The White House has not disclosed how much money this will cost American taxpayers.
So we’re paying for the Obama ladies to vacation in a country across the world, where they’re planning to do no diplomatic business, and they’re refusing press coverage and not telling us how much it will cost? This, a month after Michelle, Sasha and Malia flew to Aspen, and after Michelle had an extended vacation in Hawaii in celebration of her birthday in January.
Who do these people think they are? And how are we letting them get away with using our money for vacations and then refusing press coverage? This is not a monarchy, Mr. President, even though you think you can do whatever you want.

The most transparent administration, cont.

 By Dylan Byers
A quick look at how the sausage gets made, or doesn't...
On Tuesday night, The New York Times reported that no reporters would be traveling with First Lady Michelle Obama to China, and that she would be giving no interviews while there. Nicholas Kristof, the Times columnist, called the First Lady's decision "a mistake," and said it "signals weakness or fear of coverage." Several conservative outlets picked up the Times report, including the influential Drudge Report, which linked to a Weekly Standard article about it.
Shortly after noon on Wednesday, I reached out to the First Lady's office to inquire about the decision. A spokesperson for the First Lady responded to my inquiry but declared the response "off the record," meaning I wasn't allowed to use the information therein. When I told the spokesperson that I needed a response I could use, the spokesperson replied with another off-the-record statement regarding the First Lady's trip.
(Also on POLITICO:Barack Obama: No U.S. ‘military excursion’ to come in Ukraine)
The spokesperson then wrote, "If you need something attributable, you can take this on background from a White House official..."
The statement that followed did not address my original inquiry. Instead, it offered a formulaic explanation about "the power and importance of education" and "reaching people," followed by an explanation that the First Lady would participate in open press events and take questions online and in forums.
By now it was 5 p.m. ET, nearly five hours after my initial inquiry. When I told the spokesperson that I did not see why the quote needed to be anonymous and attributed to "a White House official," the spokesperson said if I needed something on the record I could refer to the First Lady's travel guidance and a transcript of a press call regarding the trip. These documents did not contain an answer to my question regarding why no reporters would be traveling with the First Lady.
(Also on POLITICO: The Fed chair's debut: Dull with a dash of folksy)
Now, I'll leave frustration over Michelle Obama's trip to The New York Times, Nick Krisfof, The Weekly Standard and Drudge Report (a motley crew right there). What I want to know -- and what I've wanted to know since last October -- is why the spokesperson in the First Lady's office didn't want to give me a name I could put on a harmless, formulaic quote?

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