Fewer Reporters on Rice's Plane
BRUSSELS, March 6--When Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State, she was treated like an instant rock star. There was such demand to chronicle her maiden overseas voyage in 2005 that an unprecedented 19 reporters were given seats on her plane. Many were television correspondents.
Rice, now in her final year as Secretary, scored a minor diplomatic advance this week when she convinced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to restart peace talks with Israel. But there are vastly fewer reporters around to record her acheivement.
The three wire services--Associated Press, Reuters and Agence-France Presse--are on board. Bloomberg News and National Public Radio took seats. But only three newspapers--The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Washington Times--are on the plane, down from the standard five. And the networks did not even bother to send a camera crew, let alone a correspondent.
Rice has kept up a grueling travel schedule over the past three years, making her the most traveled Secretary of State since Henry Kissinger. She was in Africa two weeks ago, Asia last week, the Middle East and Europe this week and heads to South America next week.
But with newsroom budgets shrinking, the administration fading away and the riveting race for the Democratic presidential nomination still going, there is much less focus on covering her efforts. Only wire services were offered seats on the plane for her upcoming South America trip.
Rice used to set aside an evening on just about every long trip to have an off-the-record meal with reporters. Many found the sessions provided an interesting insight into her thinking that helped inform their articles and reports. But the dinners are no more.
The last such meal Rice has held was more than a year ago, in Jerusalem in February 2007. State Department officials say Rice still wants to dine with reporters, but her schedule has been too packed to set aside time for the dwindling band of journalists who follow her.
-- Glenn Kessler
By Washington Post Editor |
March 6, 2008; 6:25 AM ET
Rice in Middle East and Europe, March 2008
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