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Friday, January 23, 2009


Obama Tours Press Digs

President Obama took a surprise tour of the White House press room late Thursday afternoon, startling journalists as he explored their cramped work area. The presidential walk-through touched off what Associated Press writer Ben Feller described as "a wild scene," as journalists quickly surrounded him.

"Right now I want to say hello and introduce myself to you," Obama said, moving beyond the 49-seat briefing room to check out the tiny workspaces and broadcast booths inhabited by the White House press corps, according to reporters working there.

It was just another step in the 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 Obama's first day of work, the president "had to ask somebody where he was supposed to go next. It's a pretty big house."

Mark Knoller of CBS News reported that Obama was asked about the White House basketball court, winning the fight to keep his BlackBerry and his 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 question on the Defense appointment.

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, and is ready for games. "We installed a new backboard on the tennis court, and so we'll be able to play full court."

The BlackBerry fight was won, Obama said, "but I don't think it's actually up and running yet."

He walked through to the press break room and spied the vending machines full of potato chips and chocolate bars. "We're thinking that maybe you might have some healthier snacks, though, guys," he said.

His final verdict on the press room?

"It's nice -- but it's confining."

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