You’d think they were having an affair. When Barack Obama gave the slip to his press corps, leading them to believe he was flying from Virginia to Chicago when he was actually driving up to Washington to meet with Hillary Clinton, the reporters went nuts. The pool of journalists who follow Obama found themselves exiled to Chicago just as the most important meeting in Democratic politics over the past few months was taking place. The Times, in an unusual effort to “cover the coverage,” recounted the reactions:
Sunlen Miller, who covers the Obama campaign for ABC News, filed an urgent dispatch via Blackberry to report that the senator had abruptly changed plans and had given the slip to those who were traveling with him all day. “I sent it as the wheels were going up,” Ms. Miller said of her message, recounting the agitation and confusion among her fellow travelers as the 757 lifted off.
Immediately, the media sprung into action. The Times describes it hilariously as “like a Washington spy thriller” and ” cloak-and-dagger-like.” They fruitlessly scrambled all over the district looking for the pair (the Post reported that the meeting likely happened at the home of Senator Dianne Feinstein), eventually giving up. Cable news outlets could talk of nothing else last night and so far today. This morning Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN that the Illinois senator “got back pretty late last night,” but except for a joint statement from the two saying they had “a productive discussion,” everything else about the meeting remains secret. “This is only a taste of the media deception to come,” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd told the Times. “It’s a frustrating game campaigns play when it comes to these private meetings. But they rarely pay a real price because secretly the press corps enjoys the chase.” Secretly?