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.