If you can't beat 'em, ask them to join you.
Off the Record, Bush Makes Media Inroads
As he defends his Iraq policy with a public campaign of speeches and a recent news conference, President Bush also has been waging a private campaign that has included off-the-record sessions with White House reporters, sources said yesterday.
One gathering, which took place Thursday in the White House residence, was an unusual gesture by Bush, who has agreed to comparatively few lengthy exchanges with reporters during his five years in office. Bush has said publicly that he needs to convince Americans that the U.S. mission in Iraq is on a path to victory, despite what he called a news media focus on daily violence.
Last week's session involved reporters from several prominent broadcast and print outlets, including ABC News and The Washington Post. Under the off-the-record ground rules, the journalists were barred from reporting what was discussed. White House officials said they also hoped the meetings' mere existence would remain under wraps. That proved impossible when journalists from The Post who were not participants in the session, as well as those at other publications, learned of the meetings from sources outside the paper and began to report on them.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan did not return messages yesterday.