Huffpost Media

Press Battles With Obama Over Access

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On a Saturday afternoon flight from Boise to Minneapolis, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois entered the press section of his plane and struck up a brief conversation with a handful of reporters, including The Washington Post's Dan Balz and The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny.

Initially, the chat was fairly banal -- thoughts on the Super Bowl, mostly -- but then the talk became more substantive, with a question raised about the senator's prospects for Super Tuesday, according to multiple reporters present.

When Obama noticed that the red lights of the journalists' recorders were on, including Zeleny's, he said that the conversation was off the record.

But Zeleny told Obama that he couldn't take the conversation off the record, just as more reporters crept out into the aisle to find out what was being said. After answering just a few questions, Obama returned to the front of the plane.

"In my view, whenever he comes back on the plane to talk to reporters, he is on the record," Zeleny wrote in an e-mail to Politico.

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