A White House correspondent relived his journalistic adventures with stories including Air Force One and a disastrous Cobb salad.
NCC’s student newspaper The Commuter invited Lehigh Valley native Dave Boyer on Nov. 15 to speak to students and staff about his career working for The Washington Times as a pool reporter. These reporters have a rotation-based system that chooses who is assigned to join the president in his travels or in his office. Five years ago, it was Boyer’s turn to meet Obama aboard his first flight on Air Force One.
“The president almost never comes back to the press cabin during a flight. Just my luck – we were about to take off and he came back,” Boyer said. “We were in Illinois and coming back to Washington. There was no news there. He was just talking about baked goods he had bought at a state fair that we visited earlier in the day. But, it was great to see him and meet him.”
With a group of about 40 reporters from different newspapers in the pool, Boyer’s turn comes up about every 10 trips. White House pool reporters include print journalists, radio reporters and a full TV crew.
“When I’m on the plane, I am supposed to write up whatever he is doing and his movements,” Boyer said. “When we took off, when we landed, where we are and just write up a quick email report and send that out to all the other reporters.”
Boyer’s job isn’t all work and no play though. He recalled a particular mess involving another reporter’s salad while on the newly renovated Air Force One.
“Brand-new plane basically. It was three in the afternoon and they had these bagged lunches on our seats. I thought, ‘I don’t want lunch.’ It was a Cobb salad,” he said.
“The guy from the Washington Post who is sitting next to me, sat down, before the plane even took off, he started digging into his salad, squirting the dressing all around. I said to him, ‘You’re not going to have time to eat that.’ He said, ‘I’m going to try.’”
“We took off. Sure enough – the press secretary comes back. [He] had two forkfuls of salad and couldn’t finish it. He went to put the lid back on the salad container, but his hands were slippery or something. He dropped the whole salad, dressing and all, on the carpet of this brand-new airplane.”
“[Another] reporter was sitting across from me and we both look at the godawful mess and I said, ‘I think I really have to put that in the pool report.’ When we landed at JFK [airport], that pool report went out and had this little tidbit about him soiling the plane. The guy was checking his Twitter account when we landed and said, ‘I have a dozen new Twitter followers.’”
Boyer also gets the chance to attend the White House Christmas party where he can take photos with the president and fundraising events where he has met celebrities like Bryan Cranston, Harvey Weinstein and Anne Hathaway.
However, with Trump’s elected presidency, reporters have trouble performing their duties. Boyer reflected on the recent change around the White House.
“President Obama is obviously worried that Trump is going to live up to his campaign pledges and come in and just unravel a whole bunch of stuff that Obama did. Like Obamacare, the Paris Climate Change agreement which I think Trump will probably follow through on with that one, the Iranian nuclear deal – Trump has said he wants to renegotiate,” he said.
“Obama said the other day that he thinks Trump is very pragmatic and he’s not illogical. I think I heard a lot of Republicans squirming and screaming when the president said that because they want their agenda to get done, now that they have a Republican president.”
Regardless of the outcome of Trump’s presidency and his disdain for media, Dave Boyer still continues his work.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Never complain about covering the White House. Nobody will sympathize with you.’”