I'm sure it's like this everywhere The President goes, but for those of you who don't ever get a chance to see this madhouse, here is a glimpse behind the scenes of the Media Circus that covers President George W. Bush as he travels the world.
My assignment for the circus, I mean, coverage of the President's trip to Fort Bragg was to head out extra early on Tuesday, drive the 2 hours south and produce a story gauging the community temperature to the War in Iraq.
Anchor/Reporter Jeff Varner, Myself and intern Scott Myrick (not pictured but credit him with some of the pictures) traveled Ft Bragg's host city of Fayetteville, shot two unique stories previewing Bush's visit and shot teases on the outskirts of the Army Installation.
Around town just outside of Ft.Bragg newstrucks from local stations to these two from UNC-TV and a rental Sat truck for NBC could be found staking out the post with correspondents, producers and photojournalists all doing basically the same things as us...Looking for a story to tell their viewers about the impending arrival of the Commander And Chief.
With our 2 stories shot, written, edited and ready to feed we left our livetruck behind at a staging area far away from the facility where the President would be speaking. We boarded the media bus at 4 o'clock and headed to the location of the Presidential event.
Our Sat truck along with all the other newstrucks were already set up, secured and sniffed out by the security dogs.
Speaking of security...They meant business. This setup isn't for show. As a matter of fact, I'm not so sure I should have taken a picture of it. There was a bunch more like this all over the place. We were definitely safe!
We took our video to our truck parked alongside this security set up and fed back our 5 and 6 o'clock stories and teases. We had little time to spare to get up on the risers and be live at 5, 530, and 6.
Jeff performed near flawlessly considering all the commotion around us. The risers were packed like sardine boxes and with every correspondent and reporter all yakking at once, it could be a bit intimidating.
And of course when the president comes to town, everyone follows to see him. This makes for a very busy press area.
We were positioned at the end of the riser beside the NBC Newschannel, who, thank goodness, already had a nice light setup that I could cheat off of. It would have been tough to squeeze any more lights up there.
And we were all sliding and squeezing especially when more cameras wanted a spot on the top row.
But it was all good. I didn't get to stay to see the President speak. We finished our 6 o'clock live and talked the media bus driver into making an unscheduled 20 minute trip back to the lot where our vehicle was parked.
Meanwhile the rest of the circus, I mean, news organizations, like CNN and CBS and FoxNews and NBC and ...... Stayed to see President Bush.
No detail was left unturned. Carpet clean, check. Sound, check, Media rolling tape, disc, data, whatever, check.
And with all the urgency of breaking news in an LA car chase....not really....the president spoke at 8. I was done with supper and driving the 2 hour trek back to homebase by this time, catching it all on an FM talk station.
Guys like CBS's John Robert's were left to continue where Jeff Varner and myself left off. Of course, as CBS's Chief White House Correspondent, Roberts is at this circus for every city on the tour.
Meanwhile I am thinking this was a cool day, probably the last one like it for a while. But you never can tell.