I was saddened last week to read that Former President George W. Bush’s dog, Barney, had passed away. Barney and Miss Beasley were two of my favorite personalities in the White House. Barney even helped initiate me into the White House Press Corps during my brief stint as a reporter in the nation’s capital.
It may be sentimentality hanging over me from Barney’s passing, or it may just be that I’ve watched a few too many episodes of The West Wing on Netflix recently (best show ever!), but I’d like to share some of my time as a White House reporter on the blog today.
You know those people who go to college with their whole life planned out and only have one major there? That was me. I knew from the moment I saw All The President’s Men in my high school journalism class that I wanted to be a political journalist. I wanted to cover the White House and write about the President.
So when I went to college, I pursued a degree in journalism. I worked at the local city paper as an intern and crime reporter, and planned my future. My last semester in school, I applied for the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism program. In the Fall of 2006, I was chosen with 11 other students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. as an intern, with extra classes with some of Washington’s top political and journalistic personalities.
It was an amazing experience, and I was lucky enough to be assigned to Bloomberg News for my internship. The wonderful thing about Bloomberg is that as one of the three major wire services, Bloomberg had a permanent seat in the White House Press Pool. For a lowly intern (and one of only two interns for the entire government beat) this was gold. It means that every time the President did ANYTHING, a Bloomberg reporter was required to ride along.
I was assigned to ride in the Presidential Motorcade with the other reporters, and it was an exhilarating experience. I will never forget the time we were driving out to Quantico when a truck hauling a mattress lost it on the freeway and the mattress came hurtling toward the presidential limousine.
Or the time a little old man wormed his car in between the line of cars in the motorcade, completely oblivious to the flashing lights and sirens around him. He quickly took notice, though, when one of the snipers maneuvered their vehicle in front of him as another stood in the back, pointing his gun at the poor old man. He quickly made his way out from among the motorcade after that.
It really was
But my favorite thing was getting to walk through the breezeway in the West Wing out into the rose garden to make my way to the motorcade. It was on one of these occasions that Barney, who was playing with a soccer ball on the South Lawn of the White House, ran up to me, gave me a big sniff, and started following me to the motorcade. I can only think that he smelled the scent of my roommates dog, who I had fed that morning.
Secret service agents quickly intervened, redirecting Barney back to his soccer ball. But not before the more veteran reporters got a few snickers in.
The coolest thing I got to do, though, was tour the White House Christmas decorations and sample the meals they’d be serving at the Christmas parties! They served bite-sized chicken fried steak, tamales, and even Barney and Miss Beasley decorated sugar cookies!
I wandered through the halls of the Red Room, the Blue Room and the East Room, and marveled at how lucky I was. I don’t have many photos from my time in D.C. (that was before Big Girl Cameras were actually affordable, haha!), but I cherish these that I do have.
I did actually get to do some real journalism while I was there. I’m very proud of this story about a surge in Iraqi violence, and this one where I actually got Michael Moore to respond to an interview request, and this one about the confirmation of Robert Gates being sworn in as the secretary of defense a few months after he presented me with my Aggie diploma.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I wasn’t exactly cut out to be a political reporter. It was just too cut-throat and demanding for me. My real aspiration (although it took me a while to admit it) has always been to be a mom. I want to watch my kids grow up and play an integral part in their daily lives. I’m so glad for where I am now, but it’s fun to think about where I’ve been.