Democrats invite 500 media folks, but it’s off the record

A day after the Democratic National Convention Committee reiterated that Charlotte’s gathering would be “the most open and accessible in history,” 500 media representatives were given a tour Wednesday of their September digs.

One of the first orders of business: cone of silence.

Mark Washburn of The Charlotte Observer nails the Democrats for their controlling arrogance in a media walk-through. You’re going to keep hundreds of the media off-the-record? It’s not even as if what they’re briefing the media on is actually that important. I mean, how could the apparatchik think that everyone was going to accept such a thing? The press is not a pussycat; it won’t stand for this blanket off-the-record stuff. Crazy, right? Well….

“A total non-issue,” said Greg Kohler of Charlotte-based NBC News Channel, who has been managing convention setups since 2000. Kohler was more interested in the good news of the day – spots in the arena for his reporters to do stand-ups were going for $1,200 to $1,800, rather than the $10,000 they cost in Denver and at other conventions.

Larry Rubenstein, who runs the logistics for Reuters news service, was focusing on the money, too. In Charlotte, the media can rent chairs at the arena for only $49, a third less than what they were paying in Denver four years ago.

He said off-the-record conversations are common during media orientation, and he thought even the Republicans had some such moments in December. “Accepted practice,” he said. Competitive reasons.

Now, we’re not pussycats. For another take, Rob Christensen of the N&O also got a more traditional story out of the gathering. No mention of the off-the-record status of the meeting.