Occasionally the White House conducts "background briefings" for reporters, often in the form of a conference call in which "senior administration officials" participate. The officials, though known to the reporters, are not to be named by the reporters in their stories; hence the term "background."
However, in the official White House transcript of just such a call on Thursday, things did not go exactly as planned. Officials and reporters were discussing Vice President Biden's upcoming trip to Mexico, and late in the call, the following exchange took place:
Q [reporter]: I understand this call on background, but I wanted to know if they had -- maybe I missed it already, but the names of the officials talking...
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks very much, caller. So on the issue of who is participating on this call. Senior official one would be Jeff Prescott, who is the deputy national security advisor to the Vice President.
I’m Christopher Smart, senior director for international economics.
I’m Ricardo Zuniga. I’m the senior director for the Western Hemisphere in the national security staff.