Obama Tours the Press Room

The AP describes the “wild scene” that took place during Obama’s first tour of the White House press digs. Some of the highlights:

Obama asked about the reasoning behind why certain media outlets had work space where they did. When he got an answer involving the intricacies of press corps protocol, Obama responded: “This is worse than the Middle East here — who’s sitting where and all that stuff.”

When a reporter tried to quiz him about a lobbyist chosen for a top Defense Department job, Obama begged off. “I came down here to visit. I didn’t come down here — this is what happens. I can’t end up visiting you guys and shaking hands if I am going to get grilled every time I come down here.”

Obama was willing to field some lighter questions. Yes, he’s discovered the gym in the White House residence. No, he hasn’t played basketball yet on the outdoor White House court because it’s been too cold.

As he walked through the area where journalists have lunch, Obama noticed a pair of vending machines that dispense soda and junk food.

He told those gathered that perhaps they ought to have “some healthier snacks.”

Then he walked through the basement quarters, where several other news outlets set up shop.

“We will try to have a relationship that’s respectful and where you guys feel like you’re actually getting answers,” Obama told the media.

Update: Here’s video of Obama “flashing irritation” during the press room visit, via Politico:

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.