White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday addressed discrepancies between remarks made by President Obama at a Chicago fundraiser earlier this week and an official transcript of the event, explaining that the difference between the two is due to malfunctioning recording equipment.
“There was a problem with the recording of the event,” Earnest said.
He added later: “I will take this opportunity to remind all of you, something you all know, that the only reason that we’re having this discussion is because of the unprecedented commitment to transparency that this administration has put in place by opening up the president’s comments at fundraisers and private homes to press coverage.”
The president joked during Monday’s fundraiser that he discovered he had some “unpaid bills” when he left Chicago to move into the White House after he won his election in 2008.
"One of the nice things about being home is actually that it's a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills,” the president said, according to the White House press-pool report. “I think eventually they got paid — but they're sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff."
But this is how it appeared on the official White House transcript: "[T]here’s still junk on my desk, including some — newspapers and all kinds of stuff."
The White House pool reporter noted after the event: "The White House's transcript of tonight's DNC fundraiser omits the president's reference to unpaid bills being stacked up on his desk at home in Chicago. I included a partial quote in the pool report earlier, but in the interest of transparency, especially since this was a print pool only event, I'm sharing the full quote, as I transcribed and checked just now, and as it was in the transcript.”
The discrepancy between the president’s remarks and the official White House transcript comes at a time when reporters have grown increasingly wary of the Obama administration’s tweaking of their pool reports.
The mention of "unpaid bills" at an Illinois event might rub a few people the wrong way just before an election, since the state of Illinois has been failing to pay vendors in a timely manner for several years running.