Day in the life: 12 hours with the business team

A view of the halls in the Treasury Department, Washington, D.C., April 14, 2010. CBS/Guy Campanile

Day in the life Timothy Geithner Interview
CBS/AP

What does it take to get a story on television? 

CBS News business producer Guy Campanile offers a behind the scenes look at his day yesterday, when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was interviewed for the CBS Evening News.


7 a.m. Reveille. The buzzing drone of my cell phone alarm clock. CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason and I will go to Washington to interview Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The story will air in less than 12 hours.

7:05 a.m. Wake up my 10-year-old daughter.

7:20a.m. Pour a bowl of dry fruit loops cereal for my 6-year-old son. I tell him I'm going to Washington to interview the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Unimpressed, he asks why we are talking to the secretary and not the boss.

7:30 a.m. Wake up my ten-year-old for the second time.

8:00 a.m. Kiss everybody goodbye as they head out for school and work. Get online and scan the news. Get washed up, dressed and eat the dry fruit loops left untouched by my son.

9:15 a.m. Pull out of the driveway. Next stop LaGuardia Airport. Turn on the radio. Time for  traffic and weather together.

9:37 a.m. Stopped cold in traffic on the Whitestone Bridge. Somehow the traffic reporter failed to see this from his helicopter. Stomach tightens at thought of missing 1030 flight.

9:45 a.m. Get off the Van Wyck Expressway which is not moving. Flirt with the local speed limit through Korean section of Queens..praying I don't come across an NYPD cruiser. LaGuardia is 3 miles away. It might as well be 20.

10:05 a.m. Grab last parking spot at the Delta shuttle lot. This will be close.

10:07 a.m. Departure board indicates flight delay. Stomach untightens

10:20 a.m. Grab a cup of complimentary coffee from the old Italian woman at counter. She remembers I speak Italian. She shows me where the Splenda is hidden. Being bi-lingual has its advantages.

10:25 a.m. Meet Mason at the gate. He's racing through the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. We both decide the Mets disastrous bullpen is more heinous than almost anything on the front pages of the day's papers.

10:30 a.m. Boarding. Everyone takes their seat efficiently and courteously. How is this process so simple on the shuttle to Boston and Washington but can be borderline bedlam on flights to Orlando or Ft. Lauderdale?

10:49 a.m. Pull from gate

10:50 a.m. Get reprimanded by Delta flight attendant for looking at my Blackberry. She tells me without a hint of irony that my six-ounce Blackberry threatens the lives of the passengers and crew aboard this 20,000 pound aircraft.

11:03 a.m.  Wheels up

11:43 a.m. Touchdown. Flight attendant warmly welcomes us to New York City. For a split second I wonder if my Blackberry had completely disabled the plane's navigation system. But a peek out the window confirms we are indeed at Reagan National Airport.

12:05 p.m. We're in a cab. It's a Prius. Quiet as a kitten. Washington is full of high school kids on class trips. The National Mall is lined with hundreds of tour buses. Can't imagine what the snack bar lines are like at the Smithsonian.

12:15 p.m.  Arrive at Treasury.  Cabbie pulls a u-turn to drop us off in an area that is clearly is marked as No Standing. Within seconds an agitated D.C. cop pulls up on a Segway scooter to admonish the cabbie. "You know better than that," he says to our driver. There's something about an angry police officer on a scooter that seems funny to Anthony and I. We both laugh.

A view of the halls in the Treasury Department,
A view of the halls in the Treasury Department, Washington, D.C., April 14, 2010.
CBS/Guy Campanile

12:20 p.m.  Secret Service ushers us through the metal detectors. I realize I have no idea where the interview is happening. A quick call to our cameraman gets us directions. He arrived an hour before and is already set-up. We begin walking the very long halls of the U.S. Treasury unattended. The place is as quiet as a library on Sunday.

12:25 p.m.  We admire the portraits of America's Treasury Secretaries that decorate the walls. Every secretary is represented -- even the ones who were in the job less than a year. Anthony notes one guy in the 1800's had the job for three months. We figure it took at least 4 months for the artist to paint his portrait.

12:33 p.m.  The Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs meets us. She asks us about our interview questions. This is not uncommon. We speak in general terms but not specifics. It's a pretty routine pre-interview dance. It's all very pleasant and professional. The only condition we agree to is not broadcasting the contents of the interview until after New York Stock Exchange closes at 4:00pm. This too is common when interviewing Geithner. What he says can move markets.

12:48 p.m.  Anthony is deep in pre-game going over his questions. We'll have 10 minutes with Secretary Timothy Geithner. You got to make every second count. We ask each other "what are we missing?" I check in with our researchers about how much the Congress has extended the debt ceiling in the past. Then I call Jamie Farnsworth - my New York colleague who will actually edit the piece with video and other interviews we left for her. We'll feed up the Geithner interview a little later from our Washington Bureau.

1:17 p.m.  Geithner casually walks in. Don't ask me why but it took a few seconds for us to even notice he was in the room. Places everybody, places.

1:20 p.m.  The interview begins. No surprises. Everyone did their homework. Geithner insists Congress will raise the nation's borrowing limit - but warns that anyone who thinks about dragging out this debate is playing with fire. The last thing the world needs is uncertainty about the U.S. paying its bills, he says.

1:27 p.m.  The secretary's press person glares at me as Anthony asks Geithner about the lack of criminal prosecutions in the wake of the financial crisis. She clearly did not like that question. She's doing her job, we are doing ours.

1:35 p.m.  Now she is looking at me with her palms upraised quietly pleading that we wrap up. We're going over our allotted time so I shout "last question." The interview ends with a handshake. Geithner is gone in a blink.

Read the script for the Geithner report

1:46 p.m.  We're out the door and in a cab. On the way to the CBS News Washington Bureau.

2:00 p.m.  Arrive at the Washington Bureau. Anthony begins to look at the interview tape and takes notes. lt's always good to see our friends and co-workers in Washington. It's unreal how hard they work. Navigating the politics of Washington for facts is like trolling the Atlantic Ocean for white whales. You'll find some. But it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.

2:15 p.m.  Buying a sandwich at Subway on M Street. Another customer loudly complains about the lack of cold cuts on his sandwich. The store manager reluctantly agrees the sandwich is light. A small victory for the American consumer.

2:33 p.m.  In between bites of my sandwich, I go over the video we have and still need with Jamie. By the way - the guy in Subway was right. Definitely not enough cold cuts in the sandwich. Bob Schieffer told me to go to Jack's for lunch. Note to self: Always listen to Bob.

3:00 p.m.  Washington begins to feed the tape of our interview with Geithner up to New York. I make calls and do some research on the half dozen other stories we are working on.

3:42 p.m.  Anthony is polishing his script. The guy is the best scriptwriter in network news. He can take college level calculus, break it down and turn it into interesting and informative television. He e-mails the script to our senior producer for approval.

3:50 p.m.  I call our graphics director and Jamie and to about how we will graphically represent some facts in the piece. Everybody's on the same page. That's half the battle in broadcast news.

3:55 p.m.  Anthony and I field calls at almost the same moment from two separate people at the Department of Treasury for an interview postmortem. They are annoyed that our interview went 13 minutes and not 7 minutes as originally scheduled. They also felt we should have alerted them to all the questions we were going to ask. We hold our ground. Again -- they are doing their job, we are doing ours. Our job is to ask the questions people prefer not to answer.

4:15 p.m.  Our Senior Producer Katie Boyle offers some good script suggestions. We make final changes. Anthony gets into the narration booth and we feed his audio track to Jamie in New York. She'll cut it with editor Lamont Belton - possibly the fastest editor in TV. What could possibly go wrong?

4:50 p.m.  Anthony runs out for his iced chai latte at Starbucks. It's his afternoon ritual. There are worse addictions in life.

5:30 p.m.  CBS News Senior Producer Ward Sloane warns us we better get in the car to go to Freedom Plaza for our live shot. Rush hour in D.C. can be epic because everybody leaves work at the same time.

5:48 p.m.  Ward was right -- traffic is miserable.

5:55 p.m.  Arrive at Freedom Plaza, It offers a great view of the U.S. Capitol. Washington is a beautiful city at dusk.

6:05 p.m.  I check in with the New York control room. Our hit time is about 645p. Catching our 730p flight will be tricky. Good thing we printed our boarding passes already.

CBS News senior business correspondent reporting from Washington, D.C.
CBS News senior business correspondent reporting from Washington, D.C., April 14, 2010.
CBS/Guy Campanile

6:15 p.m.  Anthony is all wired and ready to go. Jamie and Lamont have finished editing the story. We're having some trouble establishing communication between the cameraman and our director in NY. The cameraman improvises with his cell phone. There will be live television. Ready or not.

6:30 p.m. CBS Evening News theme music. Instant adrenaline. It doesn't matter if you do this a thousand times. How can you not get jazzed?

6:31 p.m.  I stay in Anthony's field of vision. If his earpiece dies -- my job is to frantically wave my arms and signal for him to talk. Otherwise he will stare blankly into the living room of 6 million Americans.

6:32 p.m.  Skateboarders start zipping around in the plaza behind Anthony. I give them a dirty look. They seem to get the message. If not, I'll have to try a bribe. For whatever reason $5 is the going rate in most places.

6:43 p.m.  We get the one minute warning. Stand-by.

6:44 p.m.  Our taped story rolls on the air.

6:45 p.m.  Anthony is broadcasting live to the nation. No skateboarders. But a breeze nearly knocks over the light stand. Good save by our soundperson who grabs it before it falls over.

6:46 p.m.  All done. New York tells us we are clear. We thank the crew..hop into a cab and race to the airport.

7:00 p.m.  We get to the airport just as the plane begins final boarding. I should be home by 930 or so. It'll be dry fruit loops for dinner.

  • Guy Campanile

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