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

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: A number of questions in today’s White House briefing seemed to stump Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who pledged to return with more information (though he didn’t use the Gibbsism “endeavor”). AP’s Jennifer Loven, current WHCA president, pointed out that it used to be that “if there was a question to follow up on… there would be sort of an asterisk in the transcript.” No promises on that front, though Gibbs did joke that he’d send the answer back “in that pink paper that Bill has,” referring to Bill Plante of CBS and his reading material that replaced his usual crossword puzzle that accompanies him to briefings.

Let’s Talk About Swine, Ba-by: Swine flu took center stage today, and even Gibbs’s repeated assurances that the president’s health was no concern could not stop the flood. The irony of five reporters’ coughs during a response to one flu question seemed not to be lost on a slightly grinning Gibbs, who declined to crack a joke in the face of what is on the “top of the president’s list right now.” Photogs’ shutters nearly drown out a response, but Gibbs said he would have to check in reference to questions of whether the Mexican government was appropriately forthright about the health concerns prior to the president’s visit, and on exactly what contact POTUS had with archaeologist Felipe Solis, whose death just after the trip has raised questions.

You’re It!: Several unanswered queries involved this morning’s airplane incident in New York that left Mayor Michael Bloomberg “furious.” In a classic episode of podium-press tag, Gibbs referred reporters to other administration sources, who then pointed out that those sources, including the White House military office, had referred them to Gibbs.

B+ is for Barack: It’s official. Asked again about a presidential self-evaluation, Gibbs said he’d give the administration a ‘B+’ on the first-100-days semester report card, noting, “there’s always room for improvement.” Gibbs recently gave the press corps a “strong A.” So this all begs the question: Who gets the honor roll pizza party?

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