Our Visit to the White House
August 16, 2012
WRAL-TV Photographer Greg Clark
Our day started at 7am at the north lawn security gate.
We gave the security officer our names, he checked his log sheet, and we were buzzed inside the gate.
After an hour of going through the security metal detector and waiting for the bomb sniffing dogs to check our gear, we were headed inside.
Debra Morgan and I were among a group of about 7 other media crews, about maybe 20 people in all. We spent some time waiting in the White House Briefing Room, and funny, it seems bigger on TV. Then we were taken to the State Dining Room to set up our gear. This would be sort of home base where we would work throughout the day.
Not sure what I was expecting before walking into the White House, but certainly it was like being in a palace.. Massive chandeliers in every room, intricate carvings on the antique furniture. Large statues and portraits of past presidents everywhere you look.
Incredibly grand, but the funny part is the official White House media has to work in such cramped areas. Tiny, almost closet-like spaces in the back of the briefing room. As we walked through we saw quite a number of the press hammering away on their assignments for the day.
During our day we interviewed the White House assistant chef, cabinet members, and had a tour, guided by the White House Curator, showing us the Green Room, Red Room, Blue Room, the White House Library and the Diplomatic Room, (that’s where President Roosevelt had his fireside chats).
We asked to see the Oval Office, but our request was denied. Our tour guide was quick to point out that we should never leave a room without an escort and other than the rooms we were shown, everyplace else is strictly off limits!
WRAL-TV’s Debra Morgan gets s tour of what used to be the White House swimming pool. She gets to sign her name on the wall.
We were also given an exclusive, sort of a backstage tour of the old White House swimming pool, which is actually directly under the briefing room. It had been turned into an electrical room for broadcast equipment, but they showed us the incredible number of autographs on the pool walls, from media correspondents to White House staff and dignitaries. I did see First Lady, Laura Bush’s signature. Deb even put her name on the pool of fame!
On our day here, we were able to see the President’s address to the nation from the back of the East Room of the White House during his speech on middle class tax cuts, and then we were off to interview the President. This was a pool camera interview, which meant that I didn’t have to shoot it. I was able to just stand back and watch the interview.
Clark captures a shot of the action in the White House Diplomatic Room, where FDR delivered his fireside chats.
After Debra was given her 5 minutes with the president, they handed us the discs and off we went to start editing for our afternoon shows. While Deb was writing I was able to go outside and shoot the White House garden located on the south lawn for our story with the chef.
We edited our stories and ran out to the north lawn for our live hits for the 5pm and 6pm shows. We then returned to the State Room to edit and feed for the late shows. Then packed up and headed home…
I have to say that this was a great assignment. I had never been inside the White House before and this was certainly a very memorable experience…. how awesome!
–Greg Clark, WRAL Photographer