White House Press Corp Still Whining About Boris Calling Impromptu Oval Office Press Conference

If there is one group of hacks more precious than our own illustrious Lobby hacks, it is the White House press corps. They are having a bit of a meltdown after Boris initiated an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office, calling for questions from British hacks. Biden being less keen on answering unscripted questions was not happy at taking their questions and did not call US hacks. In fact White House staffers drowned out their shouted questions when they tried and the press were marched out of the Oval OfficeWhite House press secretary Jen Psaki made it clear that Boris did it off his own bat with no regard for protocol or Sleepy Joe’s limitations…

mdi-timer 24 September 2021 @ 10:08 24 Sep 2021 @ 10:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
MPs Eyeing Up Lobby’s Unused Office Space in Parliament

While the government may be on the rocks this week, one member of the payroll has recently found themselves under particular siege: Mike Freer MP, the Tory accommodation whip. Over the summer recess hundreds of MPs and staff are set to decant from Norman Shaw North to Richmond House as part of the ongoing restoration and renewal of parliament. Crumbling walls, falling masonry and general dilapidation are just some of the problems their offices are currently beset with. 

Not all are content with the move, however. While one MP told Guido they were happily surprised by the slightly larger room they have just been told they’ll be moving into, for a number of others the extra walking distance during future divisions has left them praying for an alternative. According to one Tory source a couple of MPs have even resorted to highlighting how many of the Lobby still haven’t returned to parliament post-lockdown; enquiring to the whips about the possibility of turfing hacks out and colonising their prime office space at the heart of the palace. Lee Cain would be proud…

mdi-timer 16 July 2021 @ 11:00 16 Jul 2021 @ 11:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
New Rules: PM’s Press Secretary, Rosie Bate-Williams, Should Not be Named

Today’s Lobby briefing began with more than a u-turn on previously-declared transparency reforms, the PM’s press secretary will now no longer be named after their official briefings, a concession to transparency dating back to the Blair era. This follows the scrapping of the planned openly transparent live briefings…

Lobby Chairman, Macer Hall: “Thank you, Rosie; just before we start off, Rosie, I think you’d like to revert to the previous convention where we quote you in these briefings on the record as the PM’s press secretary, but we don’t name you – does that sound correct?”

PM’s Press Secretary, Rosie Bate-Williams: “Precisely, that sounds perfect, thanks”

A set-back for more open and transparent government welcomed with the active connivance of the Lobby cartel.  After Guido revealed the PM’s former director of communications, James Slack, was leaving for the Sun, Jack Doyle was promoted into his old role. Max Blain replaced Slack as the PM’s official spokesperson and Rosie Bate-Williams is Boris’s new press secretary. If you’re confused, prepare to stay that way – all of them will be anonymous from now on…

mdi-timer 28 April 2021 @ 17:00 28 Apr 2021 @ 17:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cancelling Televised Briefings Doesn’t Benefit Voters

A certain smugness prevails in the Lobby today that they have kiboshed the £2.6 million plan to bring Downing Street’s briefings into the twenty-first century. Forget all the spin: the reality is that it isn’t in the interests of hacks to open up the Lobby system or insist more often that quotes are on the public record. Intermediating allows them to more easily introduce their opinions into their news reports. Televised transparency would have devalued their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number so much more valuable. Opening up the system of briefings in real time wasn’t in inky hacks’ interests…

To be fair, there was some reluctance also on the part of the communications professionals in Downing Street to risk the change; the newly-promoted Jack Doyle is a newspaperman, and like his predecessor James Slack, he was never that keen on televising the briefings. Alex Wickham this morning quotes an unnamed government official as saying “that regular televised press briefings were a ‘bad idea’ from the previous No. 10 regime of which ‘no good could come’” because whenever the government was having a difficult day, social media would have been a sea of gotcha clips. On the other hand, Allegra Stratton (an experienced broadcaster) believed it could be made to work better than the current system does now. A good spokesperson could get the message to voters over the heads of hacks with their own agenda. It would also have the benefit of allowing voters to see how the political news sausage is made, which did not show the hacks in a good light during the daily covid briefings.

Last year Downing Street told Guido: “For too long we’ve been running an analogue system in a digital age. People want to hear directly what the government is doing and to see it being held to account…”. Doyle on the other hand is keen to definitively end Downing Street’s war with the Lobby, so a full surrender on the analogue front will buy him some goodwill. It won’t last. Hacks will be able to spin the off-camera answers such that they don’t precisely reflect the actual answer given.

The situation now is that unlike in Washington, or even Brussels, the transparent interrogation of the executive by the media is done behind closed doors and off camera. This suits the inky-fingered hacks of the dead tree press, who are well-aware that they would be further downgraded if an unmediated livestream of the day’s questioning were available to voters.  They’ll now be able to go on as gatekeepers setting the political news agenda, unseen by voters…

mdi-timer 21 April 2021 @ 13:30 21 Apr 2021 @ 13:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
No. 10 Kills Stratton’s Televised Lobby Briefings

Breaking concurrently with the news of Johnny Mercer’s sacking is the announcement from Downing Street that Allegra Stratton’s planned televised briefings are to be scrapped. Instead, Stratton will become Boris’s spokeswoman for COP26. Taxpayers will be less-than-pleased to hear the £2.6 million briefing room will instead be used by the PM, ministers and officials.

Hat-tip: Steven Swinford
mdi-timer 20 April 2021 @ 19:24 20 Apr 2021 @ 19:24 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lobby Turn on Each Other in Latest Modernising Row

Yesterday the PM visited a primary school to promote the government’s new early learning review, during which he gave an interview to a PA pool camera, covering everything from vaccine passports to his need for a haircut.

The media tradition has been that because pool camera interviews are for broadcasters, there’s not a need for newspaper hacks to receive transcripts of what was said – a tradition that’s becoming increasingly annoying to some members of the Lobby. The Sun’s Kate Ferguson led the charge in the Lobby WhatsApp group chat last night, ranting it’s a “ridiculous situation” she should have to find out what Boris said via the BBC Politics Twitter account “at 530pm”.

Kuenssberg quickly stepped in to explain that, historically, “the broadcast pool is technically a broadcast arrangement” and therefore there’s not been a history of sharing transcripts. Though she’s happy to pass them on when it’s a BBC camera rather than PA…

The Sun’s Harry Cole wasn’t having any of it however, messaging “We are in different times tho… in the digital age its totally unfair for our online desks to be spotting new stuff going up 6 hours after the clip was shot that no one in print was even aware had been said”

The problem for the Lobby hacks is that with all platforms going digital they haven’t modernised their methods and in some ways are lagging behind Downing Street …

mdi-timer 26 March 2021 @ 09:08 26 Mar 2021 @ 09:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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