President Obama dropped by the White House briefing room this afternoon to present a plate of cupcakes to Helen Thomas, the Hearst News Service columnist who turns 89 today and has covered the White House since 1961. (More of that “pattern of controlling the press”?)

If you thought the White House press corps would go easy on Obama today, also his birthday (48), have a listen to the questions they were shouting at the prez as he sat beside Thomas —How’s your birthday going so far, Mr. President? Did you bake [the cupcakes] yourself? Will you tell us your birthday wish? — all of which Obama ignored, saying only that “Helen wished for world peace, no prejudice… But she and I also have a common wish and that is for a real health care reform bill.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.