Background Briefings

BACKGROUND BRIEFINGS….Amy Sullivan, who now has the most peculiar permalinks I’ve ever seen, points us to Dana Milbank’s column in the Washington Post today in which he asks a good question: what’s the point of all these White House “background” briefings? In a past age, officials spoke on background because it allowed them to speak more candidly, but as Amy puts it, “Lately, however, backgrounders seem to be extended spin sessions, not so different from your average White House press briefing.” If that’s the case, why not just put them on the record?

The answer is probably pretty obvious: it’s an attempt to make spin look more like the straight dope. And it probably worked for a while. But as Milbank points out, the jig is up: “I’m just wondering what possible reason there is why all this isn’t on the record?” asked one reporter recently. Must be time for a new schtick.

And as long as you’re reading Milbank, be sure to go all the way to the end and learn about President Bush’s obsession with potholes.