How to Miss the White House Briefing and Still Salvage Your Day

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I was already running behind schedule Friday, before I hit ridiculous traffic jams, and before they moved the briefing up 15 minutes, the n started on time for the first time in recorded history.  I got to the White House as Gibbs was wrapping up.

I tried to leverage my sad story into an audience with Gibbs, but no dice.  He was with the President, and then on his way to a barbecue or a TGiFriday’s, I think.

Then, I found out there was a signing in the Rose Garden, so I got right on that.

There wasn’t a lot of news value to the story, because there wasn’t really anything I couldn’t get from watching MSNBC, but it was a chance to take a bunch of pictures for my stock library, and I’d never been to the Rose Garden.

The President didn’t use a teleprompter this time, and I have to say, it took me awhile to even notice.  The prompter is good for the optics, but I do think the notecards make for a warmer reading, active rather than passive.

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I also discovered that my camera does that “continuous shooting” with stills, so I have, like, 6 each of pictures like this:


Afterward, I shot some photos of the milling crowd, sure to be used by some righty with a caption about healing leprosy.

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Probably lucky for me that I blanked on a wisecrack (“Try H&R Block”) when I found myself face-to-face with Tim Geithner.  Gitmo isn’t closed yet.

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I also got to talk to Chuck Schumer and Chris Dodd, briefly, before the press were herded back off to our pen.

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It was fun and somewhat useful, but still not a day-salvager.

Back at the press room, most of the reporters left in fairly short order, while I set about trying to get some stories filed. Then, I heard some of the cameramen talking about how some motorcycle gang was supposed to ride up to the West Wing for a photo op, then go in to meet with someone, and maybe the President might come out for a second.

I went out to where these cameramen were all set up, and we shot the breeze for about a half-hour waiting for the Rolling Thunder crew to arrive.  We all had a bit of a laugh when they rode in and stopped, anticlimactically, about 50 feet away from us.  But they made up for it by walking in, Reservoir Dogs-style, the rest of the way.  The President didn’t come out.

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I went back in to work on my Rachel Maddow story, when it occurred to me that there might be some content to be had when the Rolling Thunder crew left.  I took my laptop and went out to sit in the shade with some news folks.

It was a beautiful day, hot, but nice in the shade.  When I finished up the Maddow story, I looked up the Rolling Thunder guys.  They’re mainly concerned with veterans’ issues, so I thought, if they spoke to the President, maybe I could engage them on DADT.

When they came out, I did just that.  A bunch of cameras, and like, 2 reporters, asked them a mess of questions.  Unfortunately, the guy in charge, Artie Muller, had no idea what I was talking about.

After they left, I went back in and set up on Helen’s desk to try and get some more content posted.  there was no time to use any of the video I’d shot, nor to research and post anything coherent about the credit card bill.  Thank God for Mancow.

So, aside from a bunch of photos and videos that I had no time to use, I had nada to show for this trip.

Luckily, I had spent the entire drive, and most of the walk, to the White House working the phones.  I was trying to find out the status of HR 1283, the DADT bill, ostensibly to use as a follow-up during the briefing.  At about 7 o’clock, I finally got a call back, from Aaron Hunter.  He’s the press secretary for the chair of the subcommittee that has the bill.  I gotta give him a hand, calling me back that late on a holiday Friday.

What he gave me was a big story, if not good news.  Without the President’s help, DADT is staying put for a very long time.  When Gibbs told me, then AMC twice, that stuff was in the works, well, that’s technically true.  Just as a water-powered car is in the works.

Sure, I could have gotten that story from the comfort of my back porch, but since the missed briefing was the catalyst for the calls I made, I’m gonna call it even.

Oh, I was also able to retrieve the gray jacket I left there last week, so I now have a collection of 3 suit jackets in my car that I keep forgetting to bring in.


  1. This was the coolest post. Great story to ‘big story.’ The subjective made it sing.

  2. Cool!

    (Yeah, that’s all I got.)

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