First, “gaggle” is a fun word. “Gaggle” is plural for “Geese”. A Gaggle of Geese! Say this five times fast, for funny results: “Get a Gorgeous Gaggle of Geese”. Seriously, it’s a fun game.
According to Answers.com, a “gaggle” is also defined as:
A cluster or group: “A gaggle of photographers huddled on the sidewalk beside a swelling crowd of onlookers” (Gioia Diliberto).”
Oh, but wait! There’s more fun to be had with defining “gaggle”. It’s also a military term, namely in the US Marine Corps, and there is a Marine Corps Dictionary (later post to be had on this as well – I bet it’s full of fun acronyms of military slang like FUBAR and SNAFU, terms that my grandfather – a Captain in the Blackwatch in WWII – tried to protect my virgin ears with and said “fouled” in the appropriate place. Silly Granddad, he had no idea, until I turned 19 and he started offering me double gin & tonics the moment I walked in the door of my grandparents house. But I digress.) The Marine Corps has enough terminology to fill a dictionary! That’s neat, and it exists informally on the internet here. I’ll come back to it later. In the meantime, I will leave you all to investigate if there is a printed version. Tell me if there is!
In USMC language, “gaggle” means, literally, “an unorganized group doing nothing”. This leads me to the subject of our wee chat here, the White House Press Gaggle.
I’ve had a fascination with the White House Press Secretary since George Stephanopoulos and DeeDee Myers. I saw DeeDee speak a couple of years ago with my pal Jenn, and she was exactly as cool as I thought she would be. She wrote a book about why women should rule the world, and that is something I can get onboard with. And then, The West Wing and CJ Cregg came along, and that’s where I learned of the gaggle. CJ was awesome, with her dry wit and confidence and slight tinge of insecurity as a woman in a traditionally male job. Side note: Aaron Sorkin is a bloody genius. Personally, I think his cocaine and, inexplicably, shrooms habit just made him better. I wonder when his next thing is coming out. (I had to look it up. People, he wrote the screenplay for “Moneyball”. This is going to be so, Sorkinly awesome. Also, he’s writing a new political thing. I’m all atwitter!)
Anyhoo, the White House Press gaggle is something between a formal, daily briefing in the briefing room and an informal, one-on-one, shoot-the-breeze session with the Press Secretary or one of his/her deputies. Before The West Wing, I thought all briefings were in the briefing room. Apparently not. Especially when POTUS (that is a fun nickname too. I should be MAGIC: “Mum And Generally Impressive Caretaker”. Heh. If you call me that, like “hey MAGIC! What’s going on!”, I will answer) is traveling, there is no formal briefing room to, well, brief the press from.
I know what you’re thinking – I too was amazed that with all it’s operating rooms and gourmet kitchens and basically, a swimming pool (not really), Air Force One doesn’t have a press room. As since reporters can’t actually file from AF1 (something that the press has been speaking to WHPS [nickname alert: whips?] Robert Gibbs about) I suppose there’s no need for a formal room, but anyway, they have a “gaggle” instead. That is, they have a back and forth Q&A session, no cameras, no policy announcements. It would appear that the gaggle is where they talk about stuff like POTUS’ Final Four bracket and goofy stuff that the White House staffers bet on, apparently not for money, which I think is bullshit. It’s pretty much the same thing as a scrum, except it’s got USMC endorsement with an, some might say, appropriate definition of the people involved. I don’t know if the Canadian or British military have a similar slang for the same thing. Hey, you can look it up, because that’s how you find stuff out!
I have recently discovered in my investigation of the gaggle that the White House publishes (!!!) a transcript of the gaggle! Neato! And they actually title the document “Gaggle”! With a capital G and everything! You can find Gaggle transcripts here. Helpful! Also, Politico 44 tells you on their daily schedule if there’s going to be a Gaggle, in advance. Will wonders never cease!
Also, it looks like I am tending to include pictures in posts, but since there are no cameras at the Gaggle (I’m spelling it with a capital G now. Sometimes, one must get with the program), there are, obviously, no photos of Gibbs in action at the Gaggle. Instead, you can have this, because it’s awesome and fun and Gaggle-y: