Brian Williams: A Day Not in the Life of a White House Correspondent
The White House correspondents will get feted at the White House later this week, but all the sliced ham and swing bands in the world can't make them any less surly. It's a sucky job, someone has to do it, and it sucks even more someone sweeps in for a stunt-casting moment of glory, like Brian Williams did today. The blogging anchor has been in the WH basement trenches but, clearly, he was not eager to get back to his roots during the 12-hour rolling interview he conducted with Bush. Instead, according to our cranky eyewitness, Williams skipped "the rigorous Secret Service sweep ('hands out, turn around, cough') that other trip-takers enjoyed in the luggage lounge by Gate 2" and "did not sit with the other White House press corps cretins in the pod by the kitchen." He did not gaggle, he did not "dine on an enormous muffin and a bottle of warm water." Williams did drop names ("We took [a plane] like that to Bosnia. Had Albright, POTUS ...") and one curious fact:
During the mostly quiet ride, Williams at one point blurted out: "This city has the second highest number of single family dwellings in the country after Baltimore." A wag said: "That's a pick-up line I use all the time." Again, silence.Our special lump-of-coal operative expands on the day's events after the jump.
NBC's Brian Williams joined President Bush aboard Air Force One for the short POTUS trip to Philadelphia today, but he didn't exactly get the whole White House press corps experience.
First, he didn't arrive at the Virginia Gate at Andrews Air Force Base before 8:30 a.m. for the 10:05 flight. In fact, no one knows exactly how he got aboard the president's plane after interviewing The Man in the Oval Office this morning -- he just did.
He didn't undergo the rigorous Secret Service sweep ("hands out, turn around, cough") that other trip-takers enjoyed in the luggage lounge by Gate 2. He did not make redundant and often excrutiating small talk with reporters looking for a lede.
Aboard the Big Bird, Williams did not sit with the other White House press corps cretins in the pod by the kitchen. Judging from the commotion two pods aft (past the Secret Service agents hold), Bush came into a small conference room to meet Williams (all captured dutifully by White House photographer Eric Draper).
Williams didn't join in all the reindeer games, otherwise known as the gaggle (but, then again, neither did any other reporter, because Bush flak Scott McClellan didn't hold one aboard the plane, telling print and wire reporters in the back pod, "We've got an interview to do.").
(For the record, the gaggle was held "Aboard Wire van 1/Press van 1" in what McClellan called "The first mobile gaggle.")
No one knows for sure, but Williams probably didn't dine on an enormous muffin and a bottle of warm water during the 28-minute flight -- the food up front on AF1 is always better.
Of course, Williams enjoyed an interview en route to Philadelphia (one of only a handful the president has ever done aboard his plane). No doubt there was much jocularity.
Once in Philly, the Katrina star did not pile into a cramped press van (network stars don't roll like that). Instead, the Wire 1 van was converted into "Wire 1/Press 1," and the Press 2 van -- where all non-wi res usually ride -- had the letters "NBC" scrawled on the sign.
The talent also wasn't sighted anywhere near the bad coffee and cold chicken cheesesteaks in the press filing center (he was no doubt preparing for his third sitdown with the president, which took place in the Park Hyatt after Bush's speech).
He did, however, get stuck with the White House press corps on the ride back to the airport (the van's handmade "NBC" sign was replaced by a "Press 2," which prompted Williams, surprised to see people already piled in to his ride, to say: "Is this our van?")
As the motorcade pulled out, one reporter noted all the middle digits extended by a gaggle of protesters in front of the Park Hyatt. "A lot of people waved to me like that when I lived here," Williams said, then, riffing, added: "It means, 'I'll have mine with mustard.' "
But that was it. During the mostly quiet ride, Williams at one point blurted out: "This city has the second highest number of single family dwellings in the country after Baltimore." A wag said: "That's a pick-up line I use all the time." Again, silence.
Near the airport, Williams took the sighting of a B-17 ("Is that the car plane?") as an opportunity to drop some names. "We took one like that to Bosnia. Had Albright, POTUS ..."
After that, there was no more mingling with The Great Unwashed. Williams came up the back stairs to AF1, like all the media mutts, but he headed straight back up to his special seat, and probably didn't find in it a bag lunch featuring a chicken fajita sandwich and a slice of pickle.
And while Sen. Arlen Specter, who accompanied Bush back from Philly, had to hoof it across the tarmac and through the VIP lounge, Williams was never seen again. He was either enjoying a private tour of Air Force One, or he quickly ducked in to his limo.
One other thing: Brian Williams has hairless hands. Completely hairless, like Mr. Bigglesworth. Past his watch, hairless.