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It takes a certain amount of nerve to have an event at the National Press Club and then ban the press from covering it. It takes another level of chutzpah entirely to admit members of the general public to your event at the National Press Club, recruit a news organization as the co-sponsor and then tell the press they can’t cover it.
But that’s exactly what former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and Georgetown University did yesterday. Plouffe was listed as the keynote speaker at the luncheon yesterday for “Transition 2009,” sponsored by Georgetown University and Politico. The public was invited to the event — students free of charge and everybody else for a fee. But at the last minute, Georgetown announced that Plouffe’s speech would be “closed press,” even though the speech was being given in the National Press Club ballroom, described on a plaque at the door as “the sanctum sanctorum of American journalists.”
Georgetown spokeswoman Rachel Pugh said the speech was “closed at the request of the speaker” before agreeing to let reporters in as long as they did not report on anything they heard there.
But Plouffe, confronted at a reception before the speech, blamed Georgetown. “The conversation in there, at the university’s request, is off the record,” he said. “It’s not my choice.”
Oh? The question was put to Rob Manuel, dean of Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies. “We are honoring his decision to be off the record,” he said.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature