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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.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 22, 2009; 7:03 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Next: Obama's BlackBerry: The Ultimate A-List




Posted by: scrivener50 | January 24, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The real news is how Obama reacted angrily to the questions:

Obama flashes irritation in press room


"President" Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.

Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a Deputy Defense Secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face.

"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."

Pressed further by the Politico reporter about his Pentagon nominee, William J. Lynn III, Obama turned more serious, putting his hand on the reporter's shoulder and staring him in the eye.

"Alright, come on" he said, with obvious irritation in his voice.

Posted by: JakeD | January 23, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

If anyone (other Nosy_Parker) needs to know the difference between 7:05 PM and 7:39 PM, let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | January 23, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Did any reporter see fit to ask him a question or two?

Read blog before posting. Mr. Fletcher reports that they did.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | January 22, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Of course Obama went and made out with the press corp, they were so crucial to his election.

Posted by: Phil6 | January 22, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

When will he give out his BlackBerry email address (sarcasm...)? Bet the press would love to get their hands on that...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 22, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Did any reporter see fit to ask him a question or two?

Posted by: JakeD | January 22, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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