Obama a 'Slumdog Millionaire' Fan
By Howard Kurtz
President Obama may not be delivering a State of the Union tonight, but he's adhering to one apparently unshakable SOTU tradition: lunching with the anchors.
The purpose, of course, was to spin -- or guide -- the journalistic guests on the speech to Congress. But one participant tells me the president began by talking about "Slumdog Millionaire," the India-based film that cleaned up at the Oscars.
Obama said the movie reminded him of the years he spent in Indonesia.
In another revelation, the president disclosed that he has napped briefly on the Oval Office sofa.
The three evening news anchors -- Charlie Gibson, Katie Couric and Brian Williams -- were there. So were the Sunday show hosts: NBC's David Gregory, CBS's Bob Schieffer, ABC's George Stephanopoulos (who knows his way around the premises), CNN's John King and Fox's Chris Wallace.
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton routinely had the anchors over for lunch on State of the Union day.
Over a lunch of what Stephanopoulos described on Twitter as "lobster bisque w beignets, seared Virginia bass w leeks and pot[atoes], pound cake w fruit compote and lemon sorbet," the conversation was conducted on background, according to an administration source speaking on background.
In the past, the basic ground rule was that the president could not be quoted directly, but the anchors could be omniscient in reporting that the president is "known to believe," is "said to favor" and so on. Sometimes the guests later ask the press secretary to put a presidential utterance on the record.
Posted at 3:21 PM ET on Feb 24, 2009
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