WASHINGTON – With an official credential hanging from his neck, a young man stepped into the White House briefing room Monday as perhaps the first blogger to (search) cover the daily press briefings. He found the surroundings to be dilapidated and cramped and concluded that his morning at the White House (search) was "remarkably uneventful."
Garrett M. Graff, 23, writes Fishbowl D.C. (search), a Web log about the news media in Washington. He decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter.
Graff said he got his pass after a week of asking. "The briefing room ought to be an inclusive place," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. Historically, he said, the White House has admitted "the traditional media and the nontraditional media, as well as colorful individuals with certain points of view from the left and the right."
The White House credentialing process came under scrutiny after a flap over James Guckert (search), who used the alias Jeff Gannon. For two years he was granted daily passes to White House briefings as Washington bureau chief for Talon News (search), a conservative online news outlet associated with another Web site, GOPUSA (search). At a news conference last month, he asked Bush how he could work on Social Security and other domestic initiatives with Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality."
That attracted scrutiny from liberal bloggers, who linked Guckert with Web sites containing gay pornography. Guckert resigned from Talon News.
McClellan said Graff was believed to be the first blogger to be credentialed to attend his morning press gathering and his televised briefing later in the day. McClellan ran into Graff in the press room in the afternoon and greeted him as "the mystery man." The two went up to McClellan's office to chat.
On his blog, Graff wrote: "Our first impression this morning? As glamorous as the beat itself may be, there's little glamour to be found in the briefing room. The conditions of the briefing room, famously built over the old White House swimming pool, um, leave something to be desired."
Graff is the son of Christopher Graff, correspondent for The Associated Press in Montpelier, Vt.