FishPoolDC: Our Insider’s Notes from Today’s Press Briefing

Spin Me Right Round: In a rare move by the young administration, the State Department ceded the Obama team’s official North Korea announcement to the White House, where Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened the briefing by labeling North Korea’s withdrawl from the six-party talks to denuclearize a “serious step in the wrong direction.” He called on the communist regime to pull back its “provocative threats” and return to the negotiating table to honor previous agreements. Pressed on how the U.S. can be expected to hold any leverage with the rogue nation, Gibbs repeatedly spun the question — “let me turn that question a little bit around” — by citing low expectations of the eventual passage of the U.N. condemnation of the recent North Korean missile launch.
Maybe Bo Can Help?: CNN’s Dan Lothian asked Gibbs why the president’s big speech on the economy today at Georgetown University didn’t offer any newsworthy nuggets. “As I’ve been reminded many times in this room, we’ve already bitten off more than we can chew,” Gibbs replied, noting that today’s address was more akin to an economic “progress report” for the American people.
Isn’t it Ironic…: In a departure from his normally free-flowing and well-practiced responses, Gibbs today referred to his neatly tabbed briefing book to recite administration policy on a number of issues: 1) continued review of the habeas corpus (or lack thereof) for Bagram detainees; 2) disappointment in Pakistan’s passage of Islamic Shariah law for parts of the country; and 3) general satisfaction with Minnesota’s latest court ruling in the Senate debacle. But after all his own script reading, Gibbs needled radio commentator Les Kinsolving — well-known for his usually bizarre queries — for reading from his question sheet: “Why do you have to write these down? Just go with the flow!”
Hug a Paper: Following on the Iranian nuclear negotiations issue, one reporter sought to clarify reports that the U.S. might allow Iran to enrich uranium if inspections are also permitted. Gibbs denied the possibility and added a crack on print reporters: “This would not be the first time that I’ve stood at this podium… having read something in the newspaper that I found to not be accurate.”

Publish date: April 14, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT