I faked it. While the Americans brought their top security guys from America and Israel posted police on every street corner- I managed to sneak into the Press hotel and pretend to be one of them. It amazes me just how lax security was- so much so that I even had a taste of the White House Press-ONLY Buffet.
Besides being an awesome experience, sneaking in made me realize why the Press don’t report the truth. Indeed they are much too busy making friends and networking in the hotel lobby. Add to that complimentary food and drink and you’ve got a group of people that are never going to do their job well.
How did I do it- you ask? How could I have made it past security and not get caught once? It was simple- I faked it. My backup plan was saying I needed to go the bathroom but I never even needed to talk to anyone.
I originally intended to go to the hotel with an organized group of other American Israelis. The group found out the Press was staying at the Dan Panorama and planned to stand outside in the hopes that the Press would interview them for a news story. But it was cold outside and the Press didn’t even bother leaving the heated hotel. So I decided to go in.
Making eye contact with the security guard and using my group’s tag that I wore around my neck (flipped over so you couldn’t read what it actually said); I made my way through the doors and into the toasty lobby. My plan was simple: I would search for reporters and tell them that there are Americans outside if they want to get some great sound bites.
I asked three reporters who sat comfortably with their free drinks in hand and they all said “no”. Hearing the quick no answers I realized that these journalists didn’t care about the actual people behind the political news story. The last reporter I asked was furiously typing on her laptop and didn’t even raise her head to say no to me. So I said, “what are you doing, facebooking?” That got a laugh but not a sound bite.
Then I walked around the hotel and hung out in the Network room where reporters feverishly watched the news and pumped out their stories. Then I made my way into the White House Press Room. Never once did anyone suspect that I was just an average citizen. Worse, no one even realized that I could be a potential threat. Sure I look like your average reporter with my dry-clean-only pants, but how did they know what I could be capable of? So much for tight security.
In the end I sat at the Chicago Tribune table and faked phone calls to my make-believe camera man and producers. It was fun pretending to be a Press person and getting free food. Once again I understand why the news stories are always filled with wrong information and opinions: they were just too busy at the free bar!