Over blow dryers, blackberries, make up and numerous phone calls we left for the White House. Katie loved the hotel, as they had sent a nice plate of chocolates with the CBS logo on it to congratulate her new job anchoring the Evening News!!More to come...
After about 10 minutes we pulled up a block away from the White House. Security was tight. Sniffer dogs, armed guards and lots of people make sure we really did indeed have any appointment with the President of the United States. Photo ID's were all checked, our bags x-rayed, and then we were officially cleared into the White House. Katie waved a quick hello to the TV crews camped outside, while Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky (a long time white house producer) said "Wow, just look at TV village!!"
Entering the White House, I am always struck by how much smaller it is in the inside, how vibrant it is, and how much history unfolds at the most famous address in the world. We went into the Blue Room, where our interview would take place. It was a maze of cables, lights, monitors, computers and equipment.
Portraits of former presidents, including Reagan and Kennedy, gave a sense of the incredible moments we are afforded as journalists. With ten minutes to go before our meeting ,we were called into the presidential dining room for an off-the-record briefing with Presidential advisor Dan Bartlett and White House press secretary Tony Snow. Here was the 'big news" they wanted to share.
The president had just declassified key information regarding a step in the war on terror and we needed to know. While our interview was due to start at 11:10, the White House wanted katie to know 14 key terrorists had just arrived at Guantanamo Bay to face military tribunals. As the clock ticked closer to our interview time, we were essentially listening to information which we couldn't release to the American public until the President announced it at 1:45 this afternoon.
It was about 11:06. 4 minutes to go before the interview. So we left the meeting with Barlett and Snow and ran to re-write some of our questions again.
Just as we were finishing we were told the President had arrived.