WASHINGTON (CNN) –The White House learned an important lesson Thursday: the most powerful place in the world is not immune to some of the technical glitches that drive most Americans crazy.
Shortly before 8 a.m. the unclassified e-mail system that top advisers and the president himself rely on to communicate with each other went dark.
Reporters left hanging by unanswered e-mails were told of the blackout by a press assistant who said, "If you need to get in touch with anyone, you have to go up and see them because e-mail is down."
At 11:54, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer made a formal announcement via Twitter.
"FYI: WH unclassified e-mail went down shortly before 8 AM.' he tweeted. "Verizon is working to solve the problem. Pool reports will be avail in press office."
Not long after that an overhead intercom system sounded out a familiar announcement to those who worked in the White House during the dark ages. Pool reports, normally sent around electronically, were available on paper.
That's how it went for several hours. The podium where spokesman Robert Gibbs normally stands during his briefings was carpeted with pool reports and a transcript of an earlier gaggle by Gibbs aboard Air Force One.
By then Gibbs was standing in State College, Pennsylvania where the president was holding an event on jobs and innovation. He talked about "investing in cutting-edge research and technology," while his own technology-e-mail to his little BlackBerry- was failing him.
White House officials said classified communications were not affected. A senior White House aide said the issue was "Not a huge deal. Kind of a quiet change of pace."
Tech workers were finally able to get the White House e-mail running by mid-afternoon.
Ahhh, the evidence flashed on computer screens at 3:03 p.m. It was a transcript of remarks the president made at the National Prayer Breakfast early in the morning.
Perhaps a sign that there is power in prayer.