Behind the Scenes at the New White House Briefing Room Redesigned for the 24/7 News Cycle
The White Briefing Room Series
Part One: The Technology
On the surface, the revamped and spiffed-up White House Press Briefing Room looks like a clean, well-lighted and more streamlined version of its old self. But largely hidden from public view is evidence of the extensive cutting-edge technology — not to mention the intensive labor — that went into the 2006-07 renovation.
For instance, that rich, royal blue backdrop behind the podium? Not blue at all. “That’s an entirely new backdrop with lots of LEDs,” says Scott Sforza, the former White House deputy assistant communications director and director of the renovation project. “Those lights can make the backdrop any color of the spectrum.”
Complete walls were torn out. A stairwell to access cabling in the deep end of the pool below the briefing room floor was dug and installed. (Yes, the briefing room is atop the old White House swimming pool.) New wiring, new lighting, new air conditioning (finally serious air flow), and pretty much new everything went in. [Read more…]
Paper Also Nets Some Obama Administration Players
Tim Daly (“Private Practice”), Justin Long (“He’s Just Not That Into You”) and Richard Belzer (“Law & Order”) will be lighting up USA Today’s tables at the WHCD, along with Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Michelle Obama staffer Jocelyn Frye, according to FishbowlDC.
White House Correspondents Dinner Vanity Fair-Bloomberg After Party
The Vanity Fair after party, normally at writer Christopher Hitchens’s apartment, is joining forces with the Bloomberg after party, according to the New York Observer. While Bloomberg is limiting its guest list to a mere 200, the combined merriment will be hosted by the French ambassador, whose (larger) home is just a short walk from Hitch’s place.
National Review Online is tipping its hat to ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper, praising the newcomer to the beat as one who “isn’t afraid to go against the grain of the liberal consensus in pursuit of a story.” Click here for full story.
If there’s a single instance in the recent history that encapsulates what the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has become in staid, old Washington, it would have to be the “Ozzy moment.” The year was 2002 and the unified spirit that enveloped Washington in the wake of the 9/11 attacks still lingered as the elite masses gathered at the Washington Hilton hotel for the annual dinner. President Bush was on hand, riding a wave of political popularity. Cabinet members like Colin Powell were also present, as well as the upper echelons of official Washington.
Comedian Drew Carey was the featured entertainment (after the president, of course), and the requisite celebrities were on hand as well – Harrison Ford, Christie Brinkley, etc. But it was heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne (invited by Fox News host Greta Van Susteren) everyone was clamoring to see. His MTV reality show “The Osbournes” had become a cultural phenomenon and the muttering poster boy of rock ‘n roll excess was more famous than he had ever been in his head-banging heyday. Even the president couldn’t resist the pull of America’s sudden and most unlikely celebrity. “The thing about Ozzy is he’s made a lot of big hit recordings,” Bush said as he gave the singer a shout-out during his remarks. “’Party With Animals,’ ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,’ ‘Face in Hell,’ ‘Black Skies’ and ‘Bloodbath in Paradise’ … Ozzy, mom loves your stuff.” Osbourne responded by standing on his chair, arms raised and shouting as the audience howled and applauded.