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Gibbs on Authorized Leaks: ‘On Occasion We Want to Get Ahead of What the News is Going to be That Day’

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Howard Kurtz yesterday, where he spoke about a variety of media and PR related topics from playing the “media game,” to authorized leaks to Twitter.

On the media “game”:

KURTZ: Now, this amuses me, because you guys play the game. You put people out on the shows. You talk to bloggers. You have anchors and correspondents in for off-the-record lunches.

So you’re a willing participant in that news cycle.

GIBBS: Well, you either have to participate in it or you’re at the mercy of it. I will say I’m always amused when I turn on the television, and two people are at the same location but in boxes that make it appear as if somehow they don’t just not subscribe to what the other one believes, but they’re physically separated from any common viewpoint.

KURTZ: “The Hollywood Squares.”

GIBBS: I think the president believes, having traveled around this country for so long now, that there’s far more that unites us than divides us. That the truth is what makes really good television are not two people that are at the end of a four-or-five-minute segment going to come to an agreement, but at the end of the four-or- five-minute segment are, you know, maybe 30 seconds away from doing each other bodily harm.

On the news cycle and authorized leaks:

KURTZ: A couple of weeks ago, “The New York Times” had a front- page story about the president about to announce that day — the next day — a new policy on offshore oil drilling. It says, “Unnamed officials who agreed to preview the details on conditions that they not be identified.”

That’s would I would call an authorized leak. Why is it in the White House interest to give one news organizations a story before he makes the announcement?

GIBBS: Right. It’s interesting.

You know, we talk about the news cycle. And if you think about it, what it used to be maybe 10 years ago or 15 years ago.

You’d say the news cycle lasted, you know, several hours — six hours, eight hours. The news cycle now is continuous, right? Every reporter, quite honestly, is a wire reporter, because, immediately, their copy goes up on the Internet, the AP wire, cable television. So –

KURTZ: And we all blog.

GIBBS: Right. And Twitter and all that sort of thing. So –

KURTZ: So you need to get out ahead of that cycle?

GIBBS: This thing — the news cycle starts at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. It lasts probably until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. It sleeps only a little bit before it all starts again. And on occasion we want to get ahead of what the news is going to be that day by letting folks know.

On Twitter:

KURTZ: Before I let you go, you recently joined Twitter.


GIBBS: Yes.

KURTZ: And I’ve got to tell you, at first you were kind of boring. You were kind of putting out the talking points and linking to favorable articles.

Lately, you seem like you’ve gotten into it. You even tweeted about an 18-mile bike ride that you took.

GIBBS: I needed some advice on how to — on some biking. And it was — I have to admit –

KURTZ: What do you get out of being on Twitter?

GIBBS: Well, I got on Twitter. The president — head of states called a news conference, because I don’t want to — when the president did his mini news conference in February, you know, there’s the seats along the wall that normally my deputies sit in when I’m up there. So I sat in one of these seats, and –

KURTZ: And they’re all –

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: Right. Bill Burton had his laptop, and Twitter up. And to me, it was fascinating, because I’m watching the White House press corps sitting 10 or 15 feet away from me reacting to and responding to the questions that were asked and the answers that the president were giving –

KURTZ: We’re getting a real-time glimpse of what’s going on in their heads.

GIBBS: It was to me fascinating.

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