Robert Gibbs experiments on White House press corps
“Morning, guys. How’s everyone?”
With that, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs launched the first press gaggle of the Obama presidency to be held in Mr. Gibbs’ private office. Only a select few reporters were invited – well, more like 50, per Gibbs deputy Bill Burton, who sent out the emails early Friday. About 20 showed up for the 9:45 a.m. session. No TV cameras. Krispy Kremes on the table, courtesy of Margaret Talev of McClatchy News Service.
“It’s an experiment,” Gibbs said, seated comfortably behind his desk, a Top Secret briefing book among the clutter before him. “It’s an attempt to get you guys a readout and answer some of your questions and not wait until the briefing later in the day.”
What Gibbs didn’t say is that getting a flood of reporter questions first thing in the morning also helps him get a read on what the media are working on.
Still, how civilized, how collegial, especially since Gibbs typically holds his on-camera briefing rather late in the day – 1:30, 2 p.m., usually starting late. And in this small venue, we all had front row seats, a treat for those of us usually relegated to the back of the briefing room. Past White House press secretaries have had such informal gaggles in their offices, but after 9/11, that changed. The crowd was just too large.