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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
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”