Nowadays, it's standard practice at these sessions to wait quietly for the President to call the name of the next reporter from whom he'll take a question.
It's the journalistic equivalent of The Price Is Right. "Mark Knoller – come on down, you're the next reporter to play "Can You Answer This?"
It's very different from when I first started covering presidential news conferences in 1976 during the Administration of Gerald Ford. Then, reporters would shout and wave their hands at the president in the hope of being recognized for the next question. The practice continued into the Carter, Reagan, Bush/41 and Clinton presidencies.
"Mr. President, Mr. President," would come the bellows from a room full of reporters. The trick was to gauge precisely when the President had spoken the last word of his answer to the previous question and try to be first to speak up in the hope of making eye contact so he'll call you name - or in the case of a young AP Radio reporter whose name he didn't know - getting a nod and an index finger pointed at you to indicate you're at bat.
During the Reagan years, women in the press corps also determined that the President was attracted to red garments and so some would wear bright red dresses to attract Mr. Reagan's attention. CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, who covered the Reagan Presidency, tried that ruse one night, but it backfired. Reagan called on NBC's Judy Woodruff, but called her "Lesley."
The practice of shouting for the President's attention came to the end at the insistence of the second President Bush. He thought it unseemly to be shouted at and made it clear that those who engaged in the practice had zero chance of being selected.
Top aides would usually provide President Bush with a list of reporters on whom he should call. Sometimes, he would be given a seating chart with circles around the names of reporters he should select, an "X" through the names of those he shouldn't, and no markings on other journalists about whom the White House aides had no opinion.
The shouting quickly died down - though there would be occasional breaches of the decorum.
But last evening, the silence was deafening, as the assemblage of reporters waited for President Obama to consult his list and call out the name of the next lucky contestant.
And yet, being a person of ample volume, I miss the way it was.
- Obama: Proud But Not Content
- Obama Urges Swine Flu "Contingency Plans"
- Obama: Info Gained Doesn't Justify Torture
- Obama: "I Don't Want To Run Auto Companies"
- Obama's "Enchanted" Answer
- Obama Hints At Change To "State Secrets" Privilege
- Watch The Full Webcast
- Huffington: Bank Bailouts Could Be Obama's "Achilles' Heel"
- Valerie Jarrett Defends Obama On CIA Memos
- Republicans Ponder: What Next?
- Americans Sound Off On Obama's 100 Days
- Photos: 100 Pictures For 100 Days
- Timeline: The Obama Presidency Day By Day
- Steve Chaggaris: 100 Days In, A Presidency Still Undefined
- Brian Montopoli: What Has Obama Meant For Black America?
- Marc Ambinder: Grading Obama's First 100 Days
- Mark Knoller: 100 Days By The Numbers
- Lara Logan: New President To Be Tested By Old Enemies
- Declan McCullagh: Obama's Transparency Vow Receives Mixed Reviews
- Jessica Derschowitz: The "Obama Effect" In Pop Culture
- Around The Web: What The Media Are Saying
- Chart: 100 Days In The Stock Market
- Word Cloud: President Obama's Words
- Polls: Obama | Race Relations | Torture | Same Sex Marriage | Our Poll, Your Questions | Video: Polling Director
- Complete 100 Days Coverage
Obama's Press Conference:
CBSNews.com's 100 Days Webcast With Katie Couric:
Recap, Analysis & Reaction: