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West Wing Reportage

Obama Presser: 8 Million+ Healthcare Sign Ups, a Deal on Ukraine Emerges

President Obama announced today in a press conference that more than 8 million people had enrolled in healthcare exchanges this year. That is 1 million more than initially predicted by the administration and 2 million more than a revised CBO estimate. He also said Democrats should “forcefully defend” Obamacare in the midterm elections and compared GOP resistance to the law to the 7 stages of grief. Republicans have gone through denial and anger, he explained, but “we haven’t reached acceptance yet.”

The President also lauded an emerging deal between Ukraine and Russia, and expressed cautious optimism that a civil war could be averted there.  Earlier today, diplomats in Geneva came to an agreement wherein eastern Ukraine will enjoy more autonomy from Kiev and Russia will agree to pull back troops back from its border. Obama said that while it was difficult to trust Putin given his past actions, the United States had “no stake in hurting ordinary Russians just for the sake of it,” and that he wanted normalize relations with Russia.

 

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Michelle Kosinski Totally Over British Royals

Mike Allen took a few minutes recently to chat with brand-spanking-new CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski about her new gig. Kosinski had been based in London from 2010 to 2014 as a foreign correspondent for NBC, and it appears she was less than thrilled to have to cover those dang royal people all the time.

“I don’t like covering things like that,” she told Allen. “I personally don’t  agree with covering celebrities the way we cover them. So it’s nice to have a change and cover something that I feel is way more important.”

Check out the video after the jump….

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BREAKING: Jay Carney Hasn’t Finished “House of Cards” Yet, Doesn’t Watch “Scandal”

In a sit-down with Major Garrett at George Washington University today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of social media on news cycles, the prosecution of leakers, and his relationship with the White House press corps. But no revelation was quite as shocking as his admission that he is woefully behind on two of television’s most important shows.

As the crowd looked on in silent horror, Carney expressed dismay that he had never seen “Scandal” and conceded that he needed to get on that s@%&, like right now. He also was unable to follow a comical reference made by Garrett about the last episode of “House of Cards.”

“I haven’t made it that far yet,” said the Press Secretary. Gasps could be heard from the crowd, mostly made of students who binge-watched the entire season as soon as it was released. A visibly disturbed Garrett assured him that the reference would make sense when and if Carney ever finished the show.

By contrast, Carney appeared very familiar with “The West Wing.” To the surprise of no one, he said that his favorite character was C.J. Craig and that another, minor character had been named after him by some of the show’s writers.

There was no mention of “Homeland,” though we can safely predict that Carney would probably agree with the rest of America that the third season really jumped the shark.

Major Garrett Goes for a White House Hat Trick

As Politico reported earlier, CBS’s Major Garrett got quite the get today. The network’s chief White House correspondent scored interviews with both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, which will air tonight and tomorrow morning. But he’s not stopping there. Oh no. In an apparent attempt to interview every high-profile member of the Obama administration before the weekend, Garrett will sit down with Press Secretary Jay Carney tomorrow morning at George Washington University for a conversation with the kids at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Topics will include how to field questions in the briefing room, keeping your cool in times of pressure, and tips to stay on message.

Obviously, this will largely be a review for most of those students, since anyone attending a GW School of Media and Public Affairs talk with the White House Press Secretary will have seen every episode of “The West Wing” dozens of times. And we seriously doubt Jay can tell us anything we haven’t already learned from C.J. Craig…

Obama Signs Executive Orders on Pay Equity

At a press conference today, President Obama signed two executive orders intended to address pay disparity between men and women. In remarks before the signing, he also called several times for Republicans to vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act set to go up for Senate approval tomorrow.

The two executive orders, one to prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss pay with each other and another to require federal contractors to provide data on employee compensation, are meant to put pressure on Congressional Republicans and to emphasize Democrats’ middle class message.

Obama criticized Paul Ryan’s budget during the speech as well, calling it a “bad rerun” that would give tax cuts to millionaires and cut funding to education and job training.

(Photo: Getty)

Obama Says Most Deportations Happen Because Congress Beefed Up Border

Facing questions on his deportation policy while making an appearance this morning on a Spanish-language radio show, “El Bueno, La Mala, y El Feo,” President Obama shifted the blame to Congress.

“Keep in mind that most of these deportations are actually at the border,” Obama said. “So it’s people who are just being stopped.  The reason that the numbers are high is because Congress doubled the number of ICE agents and custom border patrol.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson acknowledged as much earlier this month.

“It’s not because this is something that I think is necessarily a kind thing or a helpful thing for many of these families,” the President added.

Obama also fielded questions about whether Latinos from “mixed status” homes would risk triggering deportations of their loved ones if they signed up for Obamacare. Obama replied that “there is no sharing of the data of information with… immigration officials,” and encouraged Latinos to sign up, “even if it’s just for some the members of their family.”

The appearance on the radio program, which mainly features Mexican music, was the latest in a string of appearances by the President on Spanish-language media outlets. Obama has been making a major push to both Latinos and young people to sign up for Obamacare ahead of the March 31st sign up deadline.

Hey Isn’t That…

…a PRINT copy of The Hill on Obama’s desk? How quaint!

(Photo Credit: Pete Souza)

Is Ed Henry the Reason for Mice Problem in White House Press Room?

Rumors of mice in the White House have been swirling as of late, but word on the street is that they’re just after Fox News’ Ed Henry. No firm answers yet as to why, so we can only guess at this point. Does Ed leave crumbs of food on his desk? Does his work space offer an abundance of places to hide?

Earlier today, Henry Tweeted about the debacle and it’s left us wondering.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 00.05.18

According to the White House Dossier’s Keith Koffler, “Suspiciously, the CNN booth, which is right next to Fox’s, has not had its defenses breached by a single mouse, prompting questions among veteran, unserious reporters about whether White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is indoctrinating mice to despise free markets and releasing them late at night in the Fox booth.”

We here in the Fishbowl are taking this matter very seriously. Please send any relevant photos (of Ed’s workspace, other spaces in the White House press room where mice have been spotted, reasons why the mice may have an affinity for Henry) to fishbowlnick@gmail.com. We vow to follow this micecapade until the ordeal can be swept under the rug.

O’Bama’s St. Paddy’s Day Statement on Ukraine

Notably drunk and with lips as green as a leprechaun’s pecker, President Obama raised a glass to “those crazy a$$#@%#s in Crimea” at a short press conference today on the Ukrainian crisis. He also gave a “special shout-out” to Russian President Vladimir Putin who he said “acted all hard and s#%t,” but was in fact “fronting” and would “get his real soon.”

Media analysts across the spectrum rushed to interpret Obama’s remarks. We here at FBDC think MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had it about right when she said the following to Matt Lauer:

“The President is understandably wasted right now. I mean come on Matt, the man just got finished with two wars and now he’s going to have to start another one -this time with the very real prospect of nuclear annihilation for one or more European allies. If I weren’t a gin girl, I’d be hitting the Jamie pretty hard right now too.”*

Erin go bragh, y’all!

*We made this up entirely. Here is what really happened.

Chief WH Correspondent Slams VOA in Retirement Letter

Voice of America, the official external media of the US government, has been in decline of late. They have been hemorrhaging reporters and apparently suffering from a crisis in management. Now, after 34 years, Chief White House Correspondent Dan Robinson has had enough. According to a letter obtained by BBG Watch to the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the International Broadcasting Bureau -the agencies that oversees VOA – Robinson and other veteran reporters have been leaving because of “exceptionally bad and hostile management.” From the letter:

At one point, correspondents in Washington bureaus were discouraged from filing on breaking news. In its place, they were often tasked with producing “TV” reports that inevitably consumed numerous additional hours.

Due to staffing and technical problems in Central News, particularly relating to the production process, final “TV” products ended up being completed late, well after other media organizations had put out several layers of reports on a breaking news event.

Reporters too often ended up being mired in hours of email exchanges, phone conversations, and copy and paste exercises to produce scripts that “dumbed down” breaking events. 

Read Robinson’s whole letter after the jump…

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