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Most White House Reporters out of Loop on Iraq Surprise

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Most White House Reporters out of Loop on Iraq Surprise

Article excerpt

President Obama's surprise trip to Iraq Tuesday was not a complete surprise to some reporters, who were apparently either tipped off or followed the rumor mill.

As Obama's lengthy European swing ended officially in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday, there was speculation he might detour to either Afghanistan or Iraq for a meet-the-troops visit.

"The scuttlebutt, the best-guessing all week long was that he would go somewhere at the end of the trip," said Steve Thomma of McClatchy, who spoke via cell phone from Istanbul, where most of the White House press corps remained after the president left. "I think given the proximity to Iraq and Afghanistan it seemed possible. Throughout the day it increased, the talk, that it was Baghdad."

But most of those traveling with Obama on this trip were not able to follow him to Iraq, given the last-minute revelations of the trip. Only those pool reporters on Air Force One were with the president when he landed in Baghdad at about 4:43 p.m. local time, 9:43 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Those included Associated Press, Bloomberg, USA Today, Newsweek, and representatives from television and radio outlets.

"Those of us traveling with the president had very little notice," AP's Jennifer Loven, who is also president of the White House Correspondents Association, told MSNBC.

Except for the AP, representatives from the other media rotate pool duty and provide pool reports for other journalists.

Susan Page, USA Today Washington bureau chief, said their reporter, Richard Wolf, did not inform editors about the diversion plan until he landed. …

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