Steve of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Steve of McClatchy, Same Difference? Thomma Explains

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McClatchy’s Steve Thomma did the unthinkable at last night’s presidential press conference: He stood up when he wasn’t called on.

The miscue led to a light moment in the hourlong health-care seminar by President Obama. Here’s how it all went down:

Near the end of the presser, the President, set to travel to Cleveland the next day for a health care event, finished up an answer to a question, then clearly said, “Steve Koff, the Cleveland Plain Dealer.”

“I just heard him wrong,” Thomma said by e-mail. “I heard him say Steve, then what sounded roughly like my last name and wrongly assumed it was me. I immediately turned to grab the microphone from the young aide who was kneeling right next to me and didn’t hear the president add, ‘…of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.’ ”

C’mon, after four prime-time press conferences, he didn’t just want to slip past the president’s set list of questioners and snag one?

“Gosh, no, I never intended to steal another reporter’s slot, and I’ve apologized to Steve. It’s true I was very eager to ask my question, but I wouldn’t do that to another reporter,” Thomma said.

He “didn’t know anything was amiss until I asked a follow-up and he made a comment about visiting my home town on Thursday.

“I knew he was heading to Cleveland. My home town is Chicago. Heck, I’m a loyal White Sox fan and been a White Sox fan longer than the president. In fact, this is the second time he’s made personal comments to me at a news conference, both about my home town. During the transition, he apologized to me at one press conference for having assigned me a seat labeled for Cubs fans. And now he’s had to say “shame on you” for jumping into another reporter’s slot.

“I don’t know which is worse, having a national TV audience see me as revealed as over-eager knucklehead, or identified as someone from Cleveland.”

But Thomma apparently gets misidentified all the time. “I took some pride in the Atlantic‘s note last night that the “best question came from Steve Thomma of Reuters…” he said.

RELATED: WaPo‘s Sleuth Mary Ann Akers’ take, “Obama’s News Conference Sparks Battle of the Steves.”