White House

Obama makes surprise visit to last briefing hosted by Press Secretary Josh Earnest

President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the final briefing hosted by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday.

Obama interrupted Earnest at the podium in the West Wing briefing room, startling reporters gathered for the daily question-and-answer session with Earnest, a native of Kansas City, Missouri.

It was Earnest's 354th — and last — briefing as press secretary.

“I have now known this guy for 10 years, almost,” said Obama, who hired Earnest to run his communications team in Iowa in 2007.

Earnest is one of the few Obama staffers who has stayed in the White House throughout all of Obama's two terms.

“I have watched him grow and I have watched him advance,” the president said. “And he has never disappointed me.”

Obama promoted Earnest to the post of chief spokesman in 2014.

“He’s not only a good press secretary, he's a really, really, really good man," Obama said, turning to Earnest, “and I'm really proud of you.”

Earnest will give paid speeches after leaving the White House. He and his wife, Natalie, also will welcome their second child, a girl, in April. The couple also has a 2-year-old boy, Walker.

After praising Earnest, the president left the briefing room without answering questions from the press corps.

He is scheduled to hold his last press conference on Wednesday.

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise