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Tom Hanks Sends The White House Press Corps A Caffeine Infusion (Again)

Tom Hanks visits his old espresso machine during a visit to the White House March 11, 2010.
Alex Brandon
Tom Hanks visits his old espresso machine during a visit to the White House March 11, 2010.

Tom Hanks of Sully, Joe Versus the Volcano, Forrest Gump and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me fame wants the White House press corps to stay caffeinated.

The Oscar-winning actor sent a fancy Pasquini espresso machine and a bunch of espresso pods along with a typewritten note, which arrived on Thursday.

Tom Hanks' thank-you note to journalists encourages them to "keep up the good fight."
Tamara Keith / NPR
Tom Hanks' thank-you note to journalists encourages them to "keep up the good fight."

"To the White House Press Corps," Hanks wrote. "Keep up the good fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Especially the Truth part."

The story of Hanks and his efforts to keep the press corps alert dates back to the George W. Bush presidency.

In 2004, the Washington Post's Reliable Sources column ran this item:

"Touring the briefing room over Memorial Day weekend with his wife and one of his sons, and discovering that it lacked a coffee maker, Hanks had a caffeine machine delivered last week with a note: "I hope this machine will make the 24-hour cycle of news a bit more pleasant. Add water, insert pod, press button and REPORT. All good things, Tom Hanks."

One glitch: The $1,000 Illy machine currently isn't working. A replacement part is on the way. "It is going to come in handy during those background briefings," says Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, who wrote Hanks: "I can't promise favorable coverage if you ever run for president, but you have at least earned the gratitude of the White House press corps with your generous gift."

In 2010, Hanks visited the White House for a private screening of his HBO series The Pacific. So, of course, he ventured back to the press work area to check on his espresso machine. An ABC News report from the time indicates he found a mess.

"'Let me see what I can do for the poor slobs in the Fourth estate here," Hanks said picking up the dirty coffee filter, 'You know you are supposed to clean this after every use!'

Director Steven Spielberg stood behind Hanks studying the machine.

'We're just trying to combat sleep deprivation,' Hanks said."

Shortly after, Hanks sent over another machine. But it, too, fell into neglect and disrepair.

It's not clear what inspired Hanks to send a new machine this week. Perhaps he simply assumed that after nearly seven years there's no way the "poor slobs" of the press corps had cleaned the machine after every use, as recommended. Or perhaps he's been following the president's twitter feed...

...and figured the press corps needed a jolt.

Whatever the case may be, it brought a flurry of excitement to the break room in the press work area in the midst of a very busy week.

The reporters covering the White House aren't the only journalists to benefit from the generosity of Tom Hanks. In 2010, he sent a bunch of pies to NPR member station KPCC in southern California.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.