Fox News' Glenn Beck claimed that Vice President Joe Biden met "in secret" with the AFL-CIO executive council, while Bret Baier asserted that Biden's appearance at the labor federation's meeting "was anything but transparent." In fact, the White House released a transcript of Biden's AFL-CIO speech and "a pool of print reporters" reportedly covered the speech at the request of the White House.
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On March 5, Fox News characterized Vice President Joe Biden's appearance that day at the AFL-CIO's executive council meeting as "secret" and lacking in transparency, even though the White House released a transcript of Biden's AFL-CIO speech and "a pool of print reporters" reportedly covered Biden's speech at the request of the White House. On his show, Glenn Beck claimed that Biden is "meeting in secret today with the unions" and wondered what would have been said "if [former Vice President] Dick Cheney would have gone down and had an evil secret meeting, you know, with all of the big executives."
Additionally, in claiming that "[o]ne of the other things the Obama team has promised to bring is a new level of transparency in government," Special Report host Bret Baier asserted that "an appearance today by Vice President Biden at the AFL-CIO gathering in Miami Beach was anything but transparent." Correspondent Brian Wilson later said, "We never saw [Biden] because no cameras were allowed in the room." He later added, "Well, there were no cameras but there were a couple of print reporters and we have some quotes about what the vice president said," and read remarks from Biden's speech. But Wilson wasn't provided with just "some quotes about what the vice president said" -- the White House released a transcript of Biden's speech.
In a March 5 entry posted at 2:34 p.m. ET on The New York Times' Caucus blog, labor and workplace reporter Steve Greenhouse wrote that the AFL-CIO, whose executive council meetings have traditionally been closed to the press, allowed "a pool of print reporters" into the meeting to cover Biden's speech at the request of the White House:
Federation officials said this was the first time in the organization's history that the news media were allowed into an executive council meeting.
That was done at Mr. Biden's insistence, his staff said, but the A.F.L.-C.I.O. allowed in only several print reporters. Cameras weren't permitted. Traditionally, the AFL-CIO executive council meetings are closed to the press and each of its sessions this week have been closed press.
But Mr. Biden's office asked for the policy to be lifted, so that a pool of print reporters could cover his speech and a full transcript of the Vice President's remarks will be sent out this afternoon, said Elizabeth Alexander, a Biden spokeswoman.
Media Matters for America received a transcript of Biden's speech from the White House at 2:54 p.m. ET, hours before Beck's and Baier's shows aired. Biden's speech is also posted on the White House website.
In a March 5 post at 11:24 a.m. ET on his Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent reported that the White House pushed back against suggestions from Fox News that "the public won't be able to have access to what Vice President Joe Biden says in his big speech to the AFL-CIO today in Miami," writing:
Turns out, though, that this particular meeting will be more accessible to the public than it might have been -- thanks to the White House. The AFL-CIO tells us that their meetings are traditionally closed to the press entirely. But Biden's office asked the union to make an exception and allow a pool of print reporters to attend the event, Biden spokesperson [Elizabeth] Alexander says.
"A full transcript of the Vice President's remarks will be sent out this afternoon," Alexander says.
From the March 5 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: VP Joe Biden is speaking now at the ultra-posh hotel hosting the AFL-CIO conference. No cameras were allowed to go in, you know, for the people's meeting.
BECK: Let me ask you this: What do you think would be said if anybody would have ever -- you know, if Dick Cheney would have gone down and had an evil secret meeting, you know, with all of the big executives about, what are we going to do? Biden is meeting in secret with the unions. He's meeting in secret today with the unions.
Do you remember the outrage when everybody was saying that Dick Cheney was doing the big meetings with the oil companies, and the energy companies, and they wanted investigations --
LLOYD CHAPMAN (American Small Business Association president): Yeah.
BECK: -- and everything else? I mean, what are unions going to do to small businesses, Lloyd?
CHAPMAN: Well, you know, I don't think unions are going to do anything to small businesses, but, you know, I don't think unions are going to do anything for small businesses.
BECK: You don't think card -- you don't think "card-check" is going -- is going to hurt companies?
CHAPMAN: Oh, it could. It could. I don't really like the fact that Vice President Biden is meeting with anyone in secret. What happened to this increased transparency that President Obama was going to give us? Secret meetings -- you know, I don't like it.
BECK: Well, OK. All right, thank you very much, Lloyd.
From the March 5 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BAIER: One of the other things the Obama team has promised to bring is a new level of transparency in government. But an appearance today by Vice President Biden at the AFL-CIO gathering in Miami Beach was anything but transparent. Correspondent Brian Wilson has the story live from Miami Beach. What do we know, Brian?
WILSON: Well, Bret, we know that Joe Biden was, indeed, in the Miami area. That's because we saw him at an event this afternoon where he was talking about how stimulus money was going to be spent in the Miami area. However, a very different picture earlier in the day when he arrived here at the posh Fontainebleau where he came to speak to the executive council of the AFL-CIO.
All we saw was the motorcade. He entered a garage. He entered the banquet room through a back hallway. We never saw him because no cameras were allowed in the room.
Now, we asked the question, "How come no cameras?" At first, the union people told us that was a decision by the White House. We reported that. The White House then came out and said, oh, no, it wasn't us. It was the union people who made that decision.
We then reported that there was a little finger-pointing going on about this issue. And shortly after we reported that, an AFL-CIO spokesman came out and said, no, it was a joint decision. We both decided cameras should not be allowed in the room. The final answer came even later when the AFL-CIO said it was, indeed, their decision to keep the cameras away.
Well, there were no cameras but there were a couple of print reporters and we have some quotes about what the vice president said. He said, "You can -- you go home with the one what brung you to the dance. Well, you all brought me to the dance a long time ago, and it's time to start dancin', man. ... It's time to start dancin'."
A little bit later in the speech, he said, "If a union is what you want, it's a union you're entitled to have" -- very indication of a very warm relationship between the Obama administration and the unions. Bret, back to you.
BAIER: And you've been welcomed down there, Brian?
WILSON: Well, by some.
BAIER: OK, thanks.