Friday, January 16, 2009

Kurtz: No Standing O for Obama in Washington Post Newsroom

Contrary to the reports on the Internet yesterday, Washington Post editors and reports did not give president-elect Barack Obama a standing ovation yesterday when he worked the newsroom, according to Post media critic Howard Kurtz. But, he writes, there was a mob scene that underscored the fact that Obama is not only the incoming president, but a worldwide celebrity.

Camera phones flashed as Obama, trailed by Post Co. chief executive Donald Graham, began his stroll around the fifth-floor newsroom's perimeter, shaking hands and greeting nearly 200 staffers. "Where are the sportswriters?" he asked. "I want to ask about the Redskins, Nationals and Wizards."

The shouted questions were about what you would expect from the heart of one of the world's great newspapers.

"Did you like Ben's Chili Bowl?" asked Metro reporter Theola Labbe-DeBose, referring to Obama's recent visit to the downtown eatery.

"That half-smoke's all right," Obama said.

Another staffer asked about the family's dog search.

"Haven't decided yet," said Obama, who visited USA Today earlier in the day.

The president-elect had the foresight to ask about the weather. "What's Tuesday looking like?" he wondered.

... Does the episode, which some staffers muttered was a tad embarrassing, mean the paper's staff has a soft spot for Obama? Not really. It means that when an extremely famous and soon to be very powerful person shows up at the office, journalists act like people everywhere. They gawk.

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