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Via Froomkin I found Julie Mason on the “off the record” party the president threw and the press corps attended:

The off-the-record evening was intended as a pool party, but the Washington-based press corps, who spent the past month in Texas eating barbecue, declined to wear bathing suits around each other or the buff and tanned president.

The invitation was last-minute because Bush likes to restrict attendance to those who take time away from their lives and families to swelter it out with him in Texas.

Still, as it often can be when strange bedfellows find themselves at a party, the evening had a somewhat awkward atmosphere. Was it work or social? Neither side seemed sure.

Nothing the president said could be quoted, but it’s rare that reporters get uninterrupted access to him for 90 minutes, particularly when beer is served. Bush, who gave up drinking years ago, drank a non-alcoholic Buckler.

Leaving aside the obvious drooling going on here (really, Julie, he was “buff?” If he wasn’t in his Speedo, how the hell could you tell?), what interests me chiefly is this line:

Nothing the president said could be quoted, but it’s rare that reporters get uninterrupted access to him for 90 minutes,

Now, if he could not be quoted, what is the purpose of having uninterrupted access? If this was early in his presidency, say around the month of his first term, I’d buy an argument that you want to schmooze with the guy in the hopes that he’ll take you into his confidence, talk to you a lot, and thus give your readers (as opposed to your competitors’) a clearer picture of his thought process (even if it’s batshit insane).

But it’s five years in, guys. The only reason you want access is to use it to procure information for your readers. That’s the purpose of access, to get something, and that something is not a verbal blowjob from the commander in chief. Reporters know by now that this is a tightly managed and controlled White House, occupied by a guy who can’t put a forkful of bacon in his mouth without tasting some shoe leather and whose aides, consequently, do not let him speak off script. So why are you showing up at a thing to play footsie with a guy you can’t quote? Why waste your time pretending to be his bestest bud? Unless it’s to get some verbal stroking for your own sake, and not the public you serve.

Of course, I’m just some blogger with no ethical judgment. What the fuck do I know?

A.