A White House official and a reporter who was in the room today denied a report from an African-American radio host who says Obama told a group of black journalists that he tried to save Troy Davis.
The report from Rob Redding Jr. at The Redding News Review, which we were unable to confirm, says the president said he'd looked into saving the death row inmate for "three days" and inquired with the local authorities.
But White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer flatly denied the report to me just now, as did American Urban Radio Networks' April Ryan, who was among the reporters at the off-the-record meeting from which the story purported to draw.
"That article was completely, 100 percent wrong," said Ryan, who said she'd pressed Obama on Davis at the gathering with African-American media figures including radio hosts Joe Madison, Tom Joyner, and Michel Martin, though not Redding. Obama, she said, was "unequivocal" that there was "nothing he could do" in the Davis case, though he did tell the group that in general, he had concerns about innocent death row inmates, and that he'd worked in Illinois to improve the criminal justice system.
UPDATE: Redding emails, "In your report, even April D. Ryan says that the death penalty was mentioned at the meeting. She is clearly not the source of our story. We stand by the story, as posted on our websites."
I'm not sure what to make of this since its possible both sides are speaking the truth. All the Redding News said was that the President looked into it, and determined there was nothing he could do, which is not far from the: "Obama, she said, was "unequivocal" that there was "nothing he could do" in the Davis case."
So we're really arguing over whether or not he looked into it before realizing there was nothing he could do.