NPR logo WH's Gibbs Rescues U.S. Media In Copenhagen

WH's Gibbs Rescues U.S. Media In Copenhagen

How bad were tensions between the U.S. and Chinese delegations in Copenhagen?

So bad that Chinese officials barred the U.S. media from a joint meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabiao on Friday, forcing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to come to the American journalists' rescue. He even threatened a walkout by the American delegation in the Chinese didn't relent.

According to a report from a U.S. print journalist serving as the rest of the American print media's eyes and ears in the press pool, Chinese journalists pushed their way into the room past American journalists leaving little room for any other reporters and photographers (a metaphor for geopolitics and shifting economic fortunes, perhaps?)

Gibbs is seen in a news video telling members of the Chinese premier's retinue (it's unclear if he's talking to Chinese security or press aides) "Hold on. I got to get my American guys in because everybody else got in... My guys get in just like your guys get in."

There's some cross talk and some pushing as the Chinese try to back the U.S. journalists out of the room. Then Gibbs can be heard saying: "This is a joint meeting. My guys get in or we're leaving the meeting."

The U.S. journalists are allowed in and moments later, you can distinctly hear Gibbs tell the Chinese, "Don't push my guys. Don't push my guys. Don't push them."

Gibbs, who sometimes seems barely able to hide his disdain for U.S. media members whose questions get under his skin, will likely win credit for standing up for the American journalists.

Meanwhile, who knew he had the power to end a meeting between heads of state and government?