Notes from a briefing room press insider…
The T-Word: In a rare morning on-camera briefing, Press Secy Robert Gibbs tag-teamed with Jared Bernstein and Melody Barnes, chief WH economic and domestic policy advisors, respectively, to tout 250,000 saved/created education jobs reported under the Recovery Act. The announcement faced a skeptical press room (esp. on the lack of clarity on “saved” v. “created” numbers), and generated “transparency” contagion, originating with JB remarks — including that he “never contemplated this level of transparency” in local/state reporting to the RAT (independent Recovery Accountability and Transparency board). Capitalizing on the t-word, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked about the transparency of the health care debate (RG: “I do think the administration has been transparent”) and NBC’s Chuck Todd followed later with, “And this goes to the whole transparency question that Jake asked” to introduce a public option question that met with RG’s “I shockingly don’t have a lot new on this.” On bank bonuses, Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols questioned whether, “in the interest of transparency,” RG could discuss WH convos with banks reported to be ready to dole out excessive bonuses. RG said he didn’t know “who has talked to whom on this.”
Axe-ing Fox: In more colorful comments today, RG continued to engage the Fox/WH wars by elaborating on top advisor David Axelrod‘s Sunday comments. As for Axe charging that Fox is just trying to make money, RG clarified: “I assume all of you are trying to make money, but maybe I have misinterpreted your otherwise altruistic ventures.” Landing the conversation-ending uppercut, RG observed of the targeted network, “Sometimes programming can be tilted toward accentuating the most profits.” Ouch.