Obama Tours the White House Press Room
Updated 7:39 p.m.
By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama took a surprise tour of the White House press room late this afternoon, startling journalists as he explored the cramped work area. The presidential walkthrough touched off what Associated Press writer Ben Feller described as "a wild scene," as journalists quickly surrounded him.
Obama said he just wanted to say hello, as he continued beyond the 49-seat briefing room to check out the tiny workspaces and broadcast booths inhabited by White House journalists, Feller reported.
"Right now I want to say hello and introduce myself to you," he told reporters.
It was just another step in the new president's effort to familiarize himself with his new digs. During his inaugural White House briefing with reporters, press secretary Robert Gibbs said that after his first day of work, the president "had to ask somebody where he was supposed to go next. It's a pretty big house."
CBS's Mark Knoller reports that Obama was asked while in the press room about the White House basketball court, winning the fight to keep his BlackBerry and the selection of a former lobbyist as deputy defense secretary.
"I can't come in and shake hands if I'm gonna get grilled every time," he said in response to the serious policy question.
As for the basketball court, he said he hadn't had a chance to try it yet. "It's been too cold," he said. The court has been modified, he noted. "We installed a new backboard on the tennis court and so we'll be able to play full court."
And he promised the press, "We'll try to have a relationship that's respectful."
His final verdict on the press room?
"It's nice -- but it's confining," he said.
Posted at 7:03 PM ET on Jan 22, 2009
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