It’s true. Byron York confirmed it on Twitter this morning. He, along with several other influential conservative reporters and pundits, met with President Obama and his team at the White House on Tuesday for an off-the-record meeting. The Huffington Post reports:
President Barack Obama met Tuesday with a small group of conservative reporters, columnists and commentators at the White House for an off-the-record discussion.
The group, according to a source familiar with the meeting, included Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, National Review Washington editor Robert Costa, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker and Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer.
The meeting took place shortly after Obama held a White House press conference in the briefing room Tuesday afternoon. For over an hour, Obama fielded questions from White House reporters, with the focus on the government shutdown and looming debt default. Later, he met with the conservative journalists for 90 minutes in the Roosevelt Room.
This meeting seems to be somewhat of an anomaly -- although not unprecedented. And frankly, I was pleasantly surprised by the president’s magnanimity. The Huffington Post, meanwhile, also notes that while the administration, on occasion, does in fact invite newsmakers and members of the media to the White House for off-the-record discussions, it’s usually “liberal or moderate media figures” that merit invitations. No surprises there. But perhaps one reason for the unexpected olive branch, Huff Po speculates, is that the president’s schedule opened up a bit after he cancelled four foreign trips last week:
Obama presumably has more time than usual this week to field questions from journalists given that his planned trip to Asia was called off due to the shutdown. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the president has had to improvise his schedule, since many White House staffers are furloughed and there are fewer opportunities to hold events. As a result, Obama has provided more access than usual to the press.
Some of the conservatives in the Roosevelt Room who met with President Obama are his biggest and most vocal critics. (If you regularly tune into “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). And while we’ll never know what was actually said (again, the meeting was off-the-record), presumably the president explained to his critics for 90 minutes his team's strategy for refunding the government and raising the debt ceiling. And evidently, the meeting wasn’t a complete waste of time:
It was good meeting; really helped me better understand WH perspective on current matters…— Byron York (@ByronYork) October 9, 2013
Now if we could just get the White House to communicate with House Republicans "on current matters" we might be getting somewhere.