Obama Spokesman Pranks White House Press Corps on Supreme Court Pick

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Published May 22, 2009

| FoxNews.com

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs apparently isn't content with embarrassing members of the media one at a time; he likes to prank the entire White House press corps. 

Gibbs began his daily briefing Friday announcing that President Obama will announce his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court justice David Souter at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Suddenly, the room fell silent. 

"Gotcha!" Gibbs howled with a smile. "Somebody...quickly text me the name of a chiropractor, because at least four dozen necks snapped in one direction," he quipped with glee.

In previous press briefings Gibbs has confiscated interrupting cell phones and prompted phone call recipients to flee the room. But the Supreme Court tease and reaction from the press were a measure of how hot the story is in Washington. 

Any tidbit of information about how Obama is deciding who should replace Souter qualifies as news. With the White House unwilling to say who is on the short list, or even the long one, reporters are reduced to asking questions about the process.

Will the president meet personally with prospective justices? Yes, Gibbs has said. Has he done so already? Yes, Gibbs has confirmed. 

FOX News has learned Obama has interviewed at least two prospective nominees. One of them is Chicago federal appeals court judge Diane Wood. The White House won't say who the other is.

Will the president work on the selection process this weekend at Camp David? 

"I don't doubt that he'll take some reading along with him and work on his selection," Gibbs said, promising a statement later with more information. 

Because reporters can't get close enough to Camp David to see who is going in or out, it's the perfect spot for an interview. And though Gibbs wouldn't say whether Obama will conduct interviews over the long, Memorial Day weekend, Camp David provides him not only the opportunity to speak candidly with prospective nominees, but the time to think deeply about what they tell him. It is, in short, the perfect place to make a final decision.

Aides have said the president wants a new justice in place when the court convenes its next session on the first Monday in October. While that seems to leave a lot of time, there are indications an announcement could come as early as next week. Monday's holiday observances and presidential travel late Tuesday through Thursday suggest that early Tuesday or sometime Friday are the only practical times for Obama to introduce his choice for the high court. 

Here's a safe bet: the briefing room will be full both of those days.

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