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Ring, Ring: Gibbs Confiscates Reporter's Phone During Briefing

Updated 5:43 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
The White House briefing room erupted in laughter today as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put on his best high school principal face, stepped down from the podium and confiscated the cell phone of Human Events White House correspondent John Gizzi as it rang during a heated discussion with ABC News's Jake Tapper about the president's decision not to release photos showing the abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody.

"Give me the phone," Gibbs ordered, stepping down to the reporters' level as a voice cried out in jest, "This is enhanced interrogation technique!"

Gibbs took the phone, opened a side door in the briefing room and threw the phone to an aide in the adjacent room. Peals of laughter rang out.

"I made the determination that the illumination of the sound was distracting to the briefing as the Press Secretary to the President of the United States," he said, to more laughter.

A second reporter with a phone than rang moments later, Bill Plante of CBS News, kept his cell when he theatrically answered the call and took it outside. "Gibbs wants to take my phone, but I don't think it's a good idea," he told the person on the other line. "...I'll explain later."

Gizzi's phone, a "very old basic" Motorola, was quickly returned to him after the briefing. "I had it on loud... when I meant to have it on vibrate," Gizzi explained. "I barely use the the thing, quite frankly."

On the line? His editor. "He wanted copy, of course," said Gizzi.

Above, the video.

Posted at 4:10 PM ET on May 13, 2009  | Category:  Making the Rounds
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Comments

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There are a lot of self-righteous a-holes in this forum. I'm sure none of you have ever forgotten to turn YOUR cellphone off. Get a freakin' grip.

Posted by: global_chick | May 13, 2009 8:39 PM

Ah, the wingnuts reflect on a trivial and mildly amusing anecdote and predictably find proof of grievous fault. Nazis and Messiahs, even. How very fortunate we are to be blessed with their comments.

Posted by: nodebris | May 13, 2009 8:11 PM

I understand Gizzi's point of view, if indeed he seldom uses the cell phone. But having the phone removed sure gave him a good excuse to not talk to his editor. And the phone was returned promptly after the conference.

I have much less sympathy for Plante. He should have taken the hint and turned his phone OFF.

Would be nice if the video had continued and given us some of the SERIOUS comments.

Posted by: dotellen | May 13, 2009 7:24 PM

I understand Gizzi's point of view, if indeed he seldom uses the cell phone. But having the phone removed sure gave him a good excuse to not talk to his editor. And the phone was returned promptly after the conference.

I have much less sympathy for Plante. He should have taken the hint and turned his phone OFF.

Posted by: dotellen | May 13, 2009 7:20 PM

spenceradams,
It might have been bad form to have the cell phone on....but it is insanity to steal it and toss it away in the Whitehouse, by a taxpayer paid dupe.


Correct decorum would be for "the poor impulse control nutty future prisoner"

(since all people who end up in jail have poor impulse control, and always physically violate other people's persons and posessions)

to say "excuse me, but please turn off your phone in the meeting ...thank you very much.

The reaction is from a frustrated man,who had the awful postion of being a wallnut, ater being slung and stuck there in the most recent chit Obama threw out.

He should have resigned if he couldn't take the heat.

Posted by: dottydo | May 13, 2009 7:11 PM

Ah yes we settle into the good old days of the the Hitler regime power and control freakos.

Posted by: dottydo | May 13, 2009 7:01 PM

no, JakeD; he would say it reminds him of how irritating it is to hear a cell phone go off in the middle of a movie.
That's what makes today's journalists so oblivious; they don't get that.
they may frame it as Gibbs trying to not answer, but if you look at the video again, he was interrupted 3 times. Right or left, that is rude.

Posted by: spenceradams | May 13, 2009 6:49 PM

Reminded me of Ari Fleischer (and I mean that as a compliment ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 6:40 PM

If you could privately ask Gibbs what he thought about the cell phones ringing, he would tell you it was a BLESSING to distract from the grilling he was getting on the sudden reversal on releasing those photos. Get a grip, spenceradams.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 6:39 PM

sorry, JakeD; this isn't some excuse for you to swing at Obama. This is about the sheer arrogance of the WH press corps, not realizing that the noise distracts from the news.

Posted by: spenceradams | May 13, 2009 6:15 PM

Yes, don't these LOWLY reporters know their place? Gibbs is the ANNOINTED Messenger of The One!

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2009 6:05 PM

This is so hilarious! At nearly every news outlet on the Net, where the story is a subtle sarcastic swipe at Gibbs, the comments are OVERWHELMINGLY putting the reporters down for being rude.

Journalism is such a closed caste.

Posted by: spenceradams | May 13, 2009 5:47 PM

did these reporters never hear of switching the ringer off and vibrate on? Classrooms, movie theatres, and waitng rooms all tell you to turn off or at least vibrate when there. Why not the WH briefing room?

Posted by: katem1 | May 13, 2009 5:00 PM

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