Monday, January 18, 2010

OMG No Blackberrys in the Cabinet Room! WaPo, LAT, Roll Call Get Confused Over Old Policy, Flip Their Shit

Wednesday's meeting between President Obama and House Democrats about healthcare was long and intense. And secretive!

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery reported:
For Wednesday's session, Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid and other key Democrats gathered in the Cabinet Room just off the Oval Office -- no cellphones or BlackBerrys were allowed, a restriction that left aides on Capitol Hill starved for information.
The LAT's Janet Hook and Noam Levey said:
At Obama's request, senior Democratic lawmakers surrendered their BlackBerries and cellphones when they began meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.
Roll Call's Emily Pierce and Steven Dennis declared:
Everyone was asked to leave their cell phones and BlackBerrys at the door, the source said.
But at the AP, more careful heads prevailed. Erica Werner cooled things down with the actual story:
Lawmakers shed cell phones and Blackberries, standard procedure for a meeting in the room they occupied.

That's right, in fact the White House once posted a photo of a collection of Blackberrys outside the Cabinet Room. They featured it in a video, too. Reuters once published a photo of the basket. TIME had a photo, too, captioned "All who enter the Oval Office, Roosevelt Room and Cabinet Room are asked to leave their mobile devices in baskets like these, stationed around the West Wing."

Look, I bet this story happened by accident: the Democratic 'aide' who was noted as the source in two of the stories was probably someone in Pelosi or Reid's office who didn't know the deal. Perhaps all they knew was the boss didn't get to have hir blackberry in a many-hour meeting, and that seemed unusual to the aide. Who knows.

But a meme is a meme, and is there always time to make sure it's right? Not for the Post's Dana Milbank. On Sunday, he took the story one step further, using the episode as one of his examples of 'panic' for the WH and the Dems:
Skittish White House aides took the unusual step last week of confiscating their fellow Democrats' cellphones and BlackBerrys as administration officials negotiated a health-care deal with lawmakers in the Cabinet Room.


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