Administration officials customarily release the contents of new proposals, speeches, etc. to the media shortly before releasing them to the public, to give reporters time to begin analyzing the news and writing their stories. Less commonly, but still frequently, Administration officials will hold conference calls with reporters to discuss the contents of major proposals and developments and to answer questions. Usually these press calls are on background, meaning that the identities of the officials involved -- sometimes as high as Cabinet members -- cannot be disclosed. Rarely, however, officials will go on record on a press conference call. In those cases, the quotes and insights you'll hear later on CNN or MSNBC often are redacted editions of the back-and-forth that took place on those (non-public) calls.
This blog began (initially on Huffington Post's "Off The Bus" project, and often cross-posted on HP) in order to begin airing those calls in their entirety -- not to violate any rules of confidentiality (I honor requests to keep information on background, embargoes, etc.), but to give the general public direct access to the raw information used by the press in crafting its reports of current events. If the press is the "first draft of history," then primary sources like this IS history, and in this technological age, there's no reason it has to pass through a gatekeeper or filter before being accessible to the public.
Although President Obama initiated the past year's healthcare debate, the White House has never issues a formal healthcare proposal of its own. Instead, it has outlined general principles, but left the sausagemaking to Congress -- which, without strong leadership in the Senate and no more than backstage whispers from the White House, has worked itself into a near-stalemate.
On Monday, however, the White House is set to reveal a comprehensive health plan of its own. (Background stories on Reuters and BBC News.) Before the "reveal," Administration officials held an early morning press conference call to answer questions about the plan, with the call's details embargoed until the written plan is published on the White House website at 10 am Eastern time.
It's now 10, and the White House proposal can be read here. My analysis of the call, and the proposal, will be posted separately. Audio of the complete press conference call, with senior Administration officials discussing the proposal's policies and the politics behind them with the nation's political reporters, can be heard below: