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Obama Meets With Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, 'Influential Progressives'

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President Barack Obama met privately with progressive pundits on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama met with Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton and other "influential progressives" on Tuesday as part of his campaign to sell the public on the need to extend the Bush middle-class tax cuts.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the meeting took place. It wasn't listed on Obama's schedule.

"This afternoon at the White House, the President met with influential progressives to talk about the importance of preventing a tax increase on middle class families, strengthening our economy and adopting a balanced approach to deficit reduction," Earnest said in a statement Tuesday.

Earnest wouldn't give details on who was in the meeting or how long it lasted, but HuffPost spotted several attendees on their way in just after 3 p.m., including MSNBC's Maddow, Sharpton and Lawrence O'Donnell. Ed Schultz, also from MSNBC, tweeted a photo just outside of the West Wing. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, was also in the meeting.

Obama has held similar gatherings in the past. He organized a meeting with liberal columnists in January 2009, had an off-the-record chat with progressive media types in October 2009 and held a lunch with progressive pundits in June 2010 to discuss the Gulf oil spill, among other topics.

Ironically, the president said in a Bloomberg TV interview earlier Tuesday that he doesn't pay much attention to what people say on cable news. During the interview, he was asked about Republican attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice -- many of which have been on cable news programs -- and whether he feels boxed into a corner about potentially nominating her as secretary of state.

"You know, I don't really spend a lot of time on, you know, what folks say on cable news programs," Obama replied.

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