Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Off The Record Or I'm Outta Here.

FORMER DEPUTY National Security Advisor Meghan O’Sullivan dodged a lecture she was supposed to give at Indiana University on Tuesday after student reporters refused to grant her off-the-record status.

The newspaper staff argued that the was lecture was open to the public, and therefore open to reporters who might record the session.

“(It is) a common practice for people who leave the government,” O’Sullivan said later. “I have spoken widely off-the-record and it has been respected.”

O'Sullivan was supposed to discuss the war in Iraq and other security issues.

Should the newspaper have granted her off-the-record status or did they have the right to report on the event?


PbghFalcon said...

What did Ms. O'Sullivan have to hide? I can't possibly think of a valid reason to ask for off-the-record status, unless there's some massive secret she doesn't want divulged. Furthermore, canceling the lecture due to the reporters' firm stance to actually reporting the news shows a lack of consideration on Ms. O'Sullivan's part.

Does O'Sullivan not realize the painstaking details in planning such an event? Indiana University is a fairly large school; I know that an event of that magnitude would be a logistics nightmare at my old community college, which has 5,000 students enrolled and the staff to accommodate the student body. I can't imagine what security detail would be like at Indiana University, since the campus is gigantic. Shame on O'Sullivan.

Maggie said...

Personally, I think that the fact that she only canceled her speech after finding out that she wasn't able to speak off the record is kind of fishy. Is there really a reason for her to not want her words to be recorded, or is she just being a diva?

I think that the university had every right to not grant her off the record status.

Geo said...

But she knows deep military secrets that shouldn't be broadcast to the masses, doesn't she? Shouldn't the media respect the safety of our country? Don't the media members care about the troops?

What, are you guys rooting for the bad guys?

- George (the teacher and devil's advocate)

Chris Banks said...

If she knows deep military secrets, then she probably wouldn't speak about them to college students regardless of the media. My assumption is that she doesn't want to be concerned with sending her PR down the tube.

cbridgwater said...

O'Sullivan definitely had something to hide. She was talking to reporters. It's their job to get information. Why would you agree to an interview if you didn't really want to tell the WHOLE story?

Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Chelsea said...

While Meghan O'Sullivan may have meant to dodge a possible PR predicament by refusing to give the lecture, it seems that in doing so, she simply created one. The public is now left to speculate why O'Sullivan would refuse to do a lecture at a well-known university. If she had gone through with the lecture, wouldn't she have had the right to give little or no response to any question she felt uncomfortable answering?

The newspaper staff had every right to report on her lecture. With a topic as significant as the war in Iraq and national security, not covering her visit would have been a poor decision by the newspaper.

Ashlee Kane said...

I think that she had a right to ask to speak off the record. I mean she was speaking at a University to students this was not suppose to be an official press confrence or anything to serious. But on the other hand the University reserves the right to mandate how the terms of which they want their guest speakers to speak so they had to make a decision. This does raise the question, "what did she have to hide?" The funny part of it all is that the Universiry probably lost out, anytime someone who used to work that close to the President or any of this associates wants to speak "off record" you'd be a fool not to take them up on the offer. Who knows what kind of provocative information they may have heard.

Anonymous said...

I think that any reporter should respect a person's decision to be interviewed off the record. Even though she was talking to a whole university, it would have been in everybody's best interest to have just let her speak off the record. At least this way it would not have been a waste of time. It is the reporter's responsibility to make people feel comfortable and not to try and take informaiton from people who are not willing to give it.

PbghFalcon/Kurt Hirsch said...

As to Geo's comments...who do you consider "the bad guys"? Moreover, I don't think the media (in this case) had a hidden agenda in revealing military secrets. The government, however, has been more than willing to lie blatantly to the press. I see nothing wrong with wanting to get the entire story.

Ashlee has a valid point in stating that O'Sullivan had the right to speak off-the-record. However, the student newspaper doesn't have to honor that request. Journalistic integrity must be paramount, especially when a high-profile figure such as Ms. O'Sullivan visits a college campus. Did she really think that her words wouldn't be news? She's either incredibly naive or overwhelmingly arrogant.

Stacy said...

Nowadays almost anything you say can have you you blacklisted in society. It is understandable why she wanted to speak off the record. Government officils and ex government officials are often scrutinized and ridiculed so rather than place herself in a position where what she says may land her in trouble she chose to be safe.

Nick Vadala said...

Of course she has the right to speak off the record, but really she should have given her lecture. The newspaper had a right to report the event because it would have dealt with public events and information. In addition, she was making a public lecture anyway. The story really could not have been written without quotes from O'Sullivan be they through the speech or interview.

Dodging her speech only drew more attention to the things that she didn't say rather than the things she should have said.

maress said...

If Sully possesses information threatening to the safety of The United States, it is simply illogical to give the Lecture "off-the-record" or not.

The info will eventually reach the masses one way or another, ( I still believe in the power of oral tradition)

Leaving the government is always risky business, conspiracies and such are often sure to follow.

Hopeful O'Sullivan has more common sense than to leak data capable of jeopardizing our nation's security, she would be wise to immerse herself in the media.

She has the power to enlighten our possible naivety on hot topics such as the Iraq war, while simultaneously using the media as a shield from government suppresion and/or elimination --if you catch my drift--, by making herself a public icon

secrets secrets are no fun unless they're shared with everyone, ( and unless they cost us our lives).

Indiana had every right to deny "off the record" status and would have been foolish not to.


The reporters were right. A lecture is an open forum and they had the right to report what she was discussing. However i have been told that once a person says "off the record" it is completely off the record. So i guess im not sure which of these two parties has the greater pull: the reporters tring to bring the public valuable information about the war in Iraq or the subject who most likely does not want to be the cause of controversy?
:\ confused!

Maggie Ricco said...

O'Sullivan says that she's "spoken widely off-the-record" before with no problem, but I'd like to know where she's done that. Because I really think it's naive for her to think that she would be able to speak at a university and not be followed or quoted by the (campus) press. What about all the bloggers who were no doubt going to be in attendance?

Zach McAleese said...

First off, O'Sullivan looks surprisingly attractive in that photograph. Secondly, nothing is ever "off the record." Any information that is worth the attention of those not attending the lecture should not, and would not, be withheld from the public. O'Sullivan went about this all wrong and has now put herself in an even more targeted postition.

PBJ FALCON said...

O'Sullivan gave me crabs, i swear.

Speaking of crabs...
i can go for a Krabby Patty.
anyone concur?


Kevin Cook said...

When I first read this post, I thought to myself, "Do I know who Meghan O'Sullivan is?" I have no idea who she is and never heard her name before. But really what does she have to hide? What is she afraid of?

I think the student reporters took such a bold stance stance against O'Sullivan. No matter what previous title she held.

Then because she is so flustered she decides to not give her lecture? Who does she think she is?

Funny this is -- I think the fact that she cancelled her speech and dodged questions is a more interesting story than what she may have said.

Jason said...

I think maybe she wished to be off the record because the reporters were student reporters. Perhaps she thought as students, they had an increased chance of misinterpreting things she said or making factual errors or overall just being somewhat unprofessional (since that is what they are). I just don't really know what she'd want to hide from everyone that she wouldn't hide from a few hundred kids.

Kayte Ljungquist said...

Again, I think this got blown out of proportion. If she had something big to say, why would she say it to students at all? I highly doubt she would tell them secrets in a closed session. As Jason said, she was probably just worried about them twisting her words. And people have to understand how the media affects the war and our troops. There is way too much coverage on it. My brother served twice in Iraq and same with my cousin and they couldn't believe the media coverage!

Melissa Randall said...

Even if her words were 'off the record', it's not like they would not have been heard anyway. What is she discussing to students that needs to be so confidential? I's a University, not the White House.