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Gibbs to Take Last-Minute Public Questions on BP Oil Spill Tonight

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, June 15 2010

Tonight will mark two firsts in the history of Obama White House's communications strategy -- a sign, perhaps, of the somewhat unique challenges that the Gulf coast oil mess has put before this administration. President Barack Obama will issue his first Oval Office address tonight, at 8pm eastern time, on his administration's response to the BP spill. Immediately following Obama's talk to the nation, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will take questions from the nation in what, if memory and Google serves, is his first participation in the Obama administration's "Open for Questions" project since Obama took office.

"Hi guys, I'm Robert Gibbs," said the press secreatry in a YouTube video posted on the White House blog a little over an hour ago. "You probably recognize me because you've seen me answer questions from the press corps. Well, tomorrow night [sic], we're going to try things a little differently. I'm going to take questions directly from you -- right after the President is done speaking to the nation and addressing the Gulf oil spill at 8pm eastern time."

Unlike last week's session with White House environmental advisor Carol Browner on the oil breach, Gibbs' is a fully-loaded version of Open for Questions, where normal folk can not only send questions the White House's way, but vote other people's questions up or down using Google Moderator.

"So to get started, log in now," says Gibbs in his video. "Go to YouTube.com/whitehouse. Send me your questions, and I'll see you a little later tonight." A little later is a good way to put it. Just seven hours will elapse between the announcement of Gibbs' Open for Questions round, which doesn't leave a tremendous amount of time for questions to sort themselves out. The session will be streamed on White House Live.

Related: techPres friend Ari Melber calls on the Obama White House to "Stop complaining about the media you have, and start engaging the media you want."