Like a lot of newspapers, The Des Moines Register is preparing to endorse a presidential candidate this weekend. But the road to that announcement took an odd turn on Tuesday.
President Obama called to talk with Laura Hollingsworth, president and publisher, and Rick Green, editor/vice-president of news and make his pitch for the paper’s endorsement. Great. But he spoke with them under the condition that the talk be kept off the record. Not great.
So they took the call. It is the president, after all. Then Green wrote a blog post detailing what happened. It got a lot of attention.
This morning, the White House abruptly released a transcript of the call. You can read it here. I’m not sure, judging by the conversation, why the White House would make such a boneheaded set of conditions to a news organization. There’s hardly anything shocking in the interview. But transparency has not been this administration’s strong suit, contrary to big promises in 2008.
I understand the impulse to not make unplanned news at a critical moment when you’re trying to stay disciplined. But in this case you end up making news anyway, news that makes you look silly and secretive. Nice job.
Oh, if only we here at The Gazette had these high-profile problems. Our requests for interviews to both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have not been granted. Our endorsement comes out Sunday, in case you’re interested.
And maybe you’re not interested in endorsements at all. I, honestly, don’t think they carry any weight on voter choices. But I also think if we’re going to have editorial views on all sorts of public policy issues, we ought to weigh in on who makes those policies.
Perhaps you have thoughts, endorsements, etc.