House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) famously prickly press shop is getting a case of the warm fuzzies under new Communications Director Kevin Madden.
The House press corps is all aflutter over Madden’s new practices, which include making the full transcripts of DeLay’s pen-and-pad briefings available and sending out daily e-mail briefings (which even begin “Good morning folks” or with a similarly friendly salutation).
“I’ve had a steno at two of the three [pen and pads] we have done since I’ve been here,” said Madden. “I’ve sent them to my e-mail list in an effort to introduce a more methodical flow of information to reporters who are interested in covering our agenda — which includes the daily briefing with info about the upcoming floor schedule, comments on late-breaking news and our Majority Matters blog on our website.”
In the past, the transcript wasn’t released in full, but only occasionally in portions. That policy dates back to the tenure of former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who warned DeLay’s staff not to release the full transcript, said a source familiar with the workings of DeLay’s office.
He said the idea was to prevent reporters who didn’t attend the briefings from “yank[ing] bits out of context.”
Still, “a lot of reporters made it a crusade to get the whole transcript all the time,” he said.
And now that they have it, they’re eating it up. Upon receiving the transcript on Tuesday, Time magazine’s Mike Allen said, “Man, this is like getting served a beer in the eighth inning.”
Stuart Roy, the communications director in DeLay’s majority-leader office from 2002 through 2004, said he’d “caution against comparing one time frame to another.”
He said DeLay views the job as being only “20 percent about Tom DeLay. … The rest is driving the GOP message” and leading the other conference members’ press secretaries.
“That’s where Kevin is shining, and that’s where the leader thinks the press shop should be focused,” he said.
Dan Allen, DeLay’s immediate past flack, could not be reached for comment.
“I don’t know what past practice was,” said Madden. But “congressional reporters have been very appreciative of the open and constant line of communication from my office — as have other GOP press secretaries — and it’s resulted in a more efficient workday and news cycle, in my opinion. … I hope to continue all these practices.”