They may rarely give us the answers we most want to hear, but White House press conferences certainly make one thing clear: The Washington press corps is a rowdy bunch.
It's a fact made even more apparent in the informal, untelevised version of the presidential news conference — the "press gaggle." Used primarily by the current Bush Administration, the term refers to a more relaxed briefing of the press, often conducted mid-air en route to the president's next destination. For example, this April 2008 gaggle took place aboard Air Force One — and captures the White House press in spirits that match the altitude.
Gaggles are generally considered off the record, functioning mainly as information exchanges between the press secretary and press pool. That hasn't kept the White House from listing some on-the-record briefings, like the one above, as gaggles.
Three Newsweek political reporters even co-opted the term for a while their blog, The Gaggle. Their rationale in part was that the corps was at times "a flock of reporters pecking at a politician."
As for the actual origins of the term, it's anyone's guess — but for those who have seen (or heard) more than one goose together, the connection will no doubt be clear.
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This post is part of a Miller-McCune.com series on intriguing, amusing,
and memorable moments of the American presidency inspired by the
American Presidency Project (www.americanpresidency.org) and running until the November election.