C-SPAN Barred From Covering Obama's First Gridiron

C-SPAN says "it's time" to end ban on cameras.

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They want it when it comes to covering official Washington, but the journalists who kvetch when doors are closed in their faces won't let C-SPAN cover President Obama's first trip to the annual Gridiron Dinner Saturday night.

Despite an urgent plea from C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb that "it's time" to give in, Gridiron President Susan Page of USA Today said no. She told Whispers: "We respect C-SPAN and its persistence in seeking to bring TV cameras into our dinner, and we have respectfully declined."

The dinner's a big deal, especially this year, since Obama is going after snubbing the club. Some 65 journalists make up the Gridiron Club and the dinner is normally filled with funny and self-depreciating skits by reporters and politicians.

There has always been a no-camera rule, but when a video of Sen. Lamar Alexander skit from the also-exclusive Alfalfa Club hit YouTube, some thought that the barrier to cameras at the dinners was ending.

Um, no, says Page, who did note that the club doesn't bar reporters inside the dinner from writing about it. In her note to us, she said: "A lot of people don't understand the coverage rules of the Gridiron Dinner. Just to review: The Gridiron Dinner is on the record, start to finish. While we don't allow reporters to come solely for the purposes of covering the dinner, the ballroom itself is stock full of journalists, starting with the 65 members of the Gridiron Club and also including many of our fellow reporters, editors, and others. Anyone who attends is free to write about the dinner, the speeches, and the satirical show.

"However, we ask those who attend not to take photos or shoot video, and we ask everyone to refrain from filing, blogging, tweeting, or updating their Facebook status until the dinner is over. We believe this respects the history and tradition of our 126-year dinner, and it preserves the ambience of the evening."