White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was coy on Friday when it came to offering a date for the president to deliver the upcoming State of the Union address. He deflected questions as to whether the speech before a bicameral gathering of Congress would take place in January or February and only smiled suggestively when asked whether President Obama was waiting until health care reform was passed first.
But the press secretary did rule out one possible SOTU date -- much to the delight of a major television network. The speech, Gibbs said, would not take place on the same night as the three-hour premiere of the final season of ABC's "Lost".
"I don't foresee a scenario in which millions people who hope to finally get some conclusion with 'Lost' are preempted by the president," he said. "You can quote a senior administration official."
That response came to a question poised by a noticeably anxious ABC Radio's Ann Compton. But -- in a reflection of just how freaked out the network is about a SOTU-"Lost" duel -- it didn't put an end to the concerns.
Towards the end of the briefing, an AP radio reporter asked "on Ann's behalf" whether February 2 (the date of the premiere) "was definitely not it for the State of the Union address?"
Gibbs confirmed that to be true, while expressing his "love that all of the sudden ABC [news] is asking on behalf of ABC [the network]."
At which point a third ABC reporter, White House correspondent Jake Tapper, chimed in: "How about on behalf of the Dharma Initiative."