The White House Daily Press Briefing inadvertently made news today when the Secret Service interrupted the briefing and ordered the press area to evacuate. Press Secretary Josh Earnest went to his office and the media was escorted out of the building. The rest of the building remained, including President Obama.
The evacuation took place during the briefing which led television networks to easily break into coverage and have ready video. The Associated Press reported this was the first evacuation during a briefing since they became televised. CNN viewers watched as the Secret Service and canines searched the room row-by-row and then as the cameras, owned by and property of the news organizations, were covered up. Other cameras were tilted away from their original angle. The Secret Service would not comment on the obstruction of the cameras.
Following the evacuation, members of the press and Earnest returned to the James S. Brady Briefing Room and continued with the briefing. Earnest fielded several questions on the evacuation, including some from ABC News’s Jonathan Karl on the cameras. Journalists also asked about why only the press area was evacuated and wondered why the President was not evacuated with a bomb threat. When reached by TKNN, the Secret Service said the bomb threat was immediate to interrupt the briefing, but would not discuss why the President was not evacuated.
Afterwards, Earnest segwayed to the prior topics by saying that it was time to return to “regularly scheduled programming.”
Statement from the Secret Service:
At approximately 1:53 p.m. today, a telephonic bomb threat concerning the White House Briefing Room was called into the Metropolitan Police Department. As a precaution, the White House Press Briefing Room was evacuated. The evacuation was limited to the White House Press Briefing Room and did not affect any other sections of the White House. Sweeps concluded at 2:36 p.m., the area was declared safe, and all occupants were returned to the White House Press Briefing Room.