If ever you needed proof that a fancycam can open any door, consider this: I wormed my way into the White House yesterday. Technically, we were even invited! Well, Cindy Farmer was. The Piedmont's perennial sweetheart, er, anchor lady was allegedly minding her own business last week when she received a phone call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "Michelle Obama would like to meet with you. Can you come to the White House?" Somewhat suspecting she was being punked, Cindy said yes and before long it was determined she would need a photog to document the event. Enter ME. No, really: I walked by the Chief at the right time and he asked me if I wanted to go. 'Sounds labor intensive', I thought, the kind of thing I usually avoid. "Of course!" I said. Hey, some things you don't pass up.
All of which explains why I showed up at the White House security gate yesterday with camera gear, credentials and one perky morning anchor. The oak tree in a uniform took a look at Cindy's beaming face and waived her through. Then he stared at my press pass for a good sixty seconds before pressing an unseen button, at which point two gun-wielding ninjas popped out from behind a bush and dragged me away to an underground bunker. Okay, it didn't go down exactly like that, but I was poked, prodded, almost tased and damn near engaged before being finally ushered inside. My gear suffered a similar fate. Guards removed all 74 items I had jammed into my backpack and when they were done I had about 15 seconds to put it all back in. I finished in time and the guards seemed pleased. Wonder what their over/under was?
First stop: the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. You know, that vaulted space where the Press Secretary of the moment faces cameras and deflects questions. It all looks so grand on C-Span but in reality it's about the size of a stout double-wide trailer (with all the charm). We residents of the Fourth Estate are used to this phenomenon, as all studios look smaller in person. But this deception is so striking it belongs right up there with Area 51, which, I suspect, has alien examination rooms bigger than this rinky-dink theater where the official spokesperson for the current administration quite literally faces the nation. Speaking of which ... it's next to impossible to hang out in a room with that kind of Presidential podium and not eventually take the floor. Why, during MY time at the lectern, I called for an end to the War on Drugs, declared Stevie Ray Vaughan's birthday (October 3rd) a national holiday and proudly named The Hillary Step as our 51st State. Of course my exhortations barely raised an eyebrow and as I looked out over the hardened press corps, I realized I wasn't the first rookie they'd watched go rogue...
NEXT TIME: Lifers, Snipers and Bo, OH MY!