From Our Files: The day James Brady returned to White House briefing room

James Brady, President Reagan's press secretary and, later, a handgun control advocate after being gravely wounded, died Monday. This June 16, 2009, outtake recounts his first visit to the Brady Press Briefing Room, renamed in his honor in 2000.

Larry Downing
Former White House Press Secretary James Brady and his wife, Sarah, visit the press room named after him at the White House, June 16, 2009.

Former Reagan press secretary James Brady dropped by the White House briefing room that is named in his honor.

A press pool report by Michael Riley of the Denver Post said Brady made his first visit to the room where White House officials spar with the press since the cramped facility was named for him in February 2000. Brady was in a wheelchair as a result of gunshot injuries received during an assassination attempt against President Reagan in 1981. The former press secretary was at the White House to visit Robert Gibbs, the man who now holds his former job.

A press corps hero

There is immense affection for Brady among members of the press corps for his courage in the face of adversity and for his unshaken quick wit. During his 10-minute visit Tuesday, Brady told a story about Hearst columnist Helen Thomas, who for many years covered the White House for the United Press International wire service. Brady said Ms. Thomas used to knock on the glass of his office early in morning, before he had had his tea. “I would say, ‘Woman, have you no shame?' The answer was, ‘No, do you think I would have gotten so far in a male-dominated world if I had any shame,’ ” Brady said.

Still joking

Ann Compton, the longtime White House correspondent for ABC News, asked Brady how he would rate the current crop of correspondents.

“I would give you a high grade,” Brady said, and then quipped, “Was that the right answer?”

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