White House press scooped on Obama dinner

February 12, 2016

It happens.

President Obama was in Los Angeles Thursday for a fundraiser. That was on his schedule and was covered. But he then segued to a private dinner that wasn’t on his public schedule. And wasn’t covered.

The story was broken by Deadline, an entertainment publication, which initially indicated he’d dined with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of Dreamworks and a big Democratic Party contributor. It later added that the dinner included Alan Horn, the boss of Disney Studios, and actor Will Smith.

In a Friday pool report, New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler indicated how the White House hadn’t disclosed the gathering. Eric Schultz, the deputy press secretary, wouldn’t discuss it during a Friday briefing on Air Force One as Obama headed to Palm Springs for a big gathering of Southeast Asian leaders.

“I am going to protect the president’s ability to have private conversations, whether that’s with lawmakers, whether that’s with candidates for president, or whether that’s with Hollywood artists,” Schultz said.

What did they discuss? It was not known. One potential topic, among many others potentially, was what Obama does when he becomes a private citizen next year. It’s been on his mind. Indeed, it’s inspired gatherings at the White House among diverse guests who’ve been beckoned for their thoughts.

It was a subject touched upon by Obama in private chats during a sentimental journey to Springfield, Illinois on Wednesday both before and after he addressed the state legislature where he once served. The address came on the ninth anniversary of his Springfield announcement he was running for president.