It is always different; the way a White House informs you that you have the President of the United States for an interview. Sometimes it’s a call to warn an important call is coming, and you better agree to the conditions. Often it is four to six people calling to claim credit for making the interview happen. But, as in most things with Obama, this is a drama free process: just an email asking where you can be reached. This email is from Dan Pfeiffer, deputy communications director of the Obama White House, and the cool and collected center of the daily press hub since the beginning of the campaign.
Newsweek, along with everyone else, had a request in to the White House to get more of President Obama’s words on the record. The interview is for Jon Meacham, named Newsweek editor at 29, now just 40. Meacham is a poet-historian and, like Obama, a bestselling author. Pfeiffer’s email advises that we will get our interview and it will be on Air Force One. Despite no video or audio, we were pleased and I reply, “We are in.” There was a quick handover to the operations folks for details of the trip to Phoenix for the President’s commencement address at Arizona State University.
I ask Meacham if he’s ever been on Air Force One, and he said only at the Reagan Library. My only time was during my stint running MSNBC’s 2004 election coverage when 30 Rock was transformed into “Democracy Plaza,” — a piece of an Air Force One plane was part of the plaza-wide exhibition.
Meacham and I meet up with Newsweek star photographer Khue Bui, a White House press corps veteran and delightful campaign trail mate, who will round out the Newsweek Air Force One team. We arrive at Andrews Air Force Base looking like the desk jockeys we are; editors and producers aren’t usually allowed out of their bureaus.
We watch as the entire White House traveling press corps arrives for a security check; however, they’ll be traveling on the press charter plane departing ahead of Air Force One.