Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!
Last week we made a quick trip to Detroit, Michigan, to work on a special that will air in August. We could not get back to Washington or New York in time for our show, so we did "On the Record" from a rented studio in Detroit. I took some pictures and they are posted today. Included in the pics are two of our Detroit guest, Geoffrey Fieger. The pics give you a bit of an idea how nomadic our show is…
Now for some behind the scenes: Monday at about 5 p.m., I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who works at the State Department. We are friends from the time we both worked at CNN. I had been e-mailing her all day to see if I could get cameras into the area of the State Department that is handling the monumental task of evacuating as many as 25,000 Americans from Lebanon. I was curious about how the task was done, since it seems so huge to me. Imagine evacuating up to 25,000 people from a war zone… and with no notice. How and where do they do this? My friend told me in e-mails early in the day that she would see what she could do.
The 5 p.m. e-mail from her was the one I was waiting for, but admittedly had forgotten about. The e-mail said something like, "How soon can you get here?" I replied something like, "Now." I said "now," but had no idea if we could get a crew on such short notice. I hit send on my e-mail and then we quickly put together a crew (audio and camera) and raced across town to the State Department. It is about 23 blocks from our Capitol Hill bureau — but a long 23 blocks since we were traveling during rush hour.
We also did not know what we would see at the State Department, so it was hard to plan what to do once we arrived. We also knew that we had a small window of opportunity to do our taping since our mere presence was a bit of a nuisance to those working hard to evacuate Americans. I guess you could say we knew we had to wing it!
If you watched Monday night's show, you saw the tape we shot at the State Department. I saw it for the first time when you did, because we had so little time to feed it and then show it to me. It is not often that you can get inside — deep inside — the State Department. It was fun for me to do the taping (actually the cameraman did it) since it was the first time I had seen the area where they handle a crisis like the evacuation of 25,000 Americans.
I have been at the State Department many times before, but never where we shot yesterday's video. I was surprised to learn that you must have a "Top Secret" security clearance to get into that area (we were escorted by security since we obviously do not have that security clearance.) Why the necessity of the security clearance? I supposed because discussed in the area are matters such as ship locations to evacuate passengers. It could put passengers at risk if information about ship location were leaked to a group that wants to inflict harm on Americans. We were obviously not State Department employees and thus no one said anything to us or in front of us that was secret. We were there only a short time and then escorted out.
After finishing the State Department taping, we raced back across town to our D.C. bureau on Capitol Hill and then my D.C. producer had the job of feeding the video tape to our New York bureau so that it could be cut and aired during our 10 p.m. show. We also had to find a place in the show for the tape, since we had not planned earlier in the day to have it. We only learned about the taping opportunity after 5 p.m. While that is disruptive to our plans, it is not unusual for cable news shows to get disrupted. In fact, every time we do breaking news we are changing the show. This business is never without surprises.
Incidentally, I took a bunch of still pictures from inside the State Department. I will post them here on the blog in the next few days. I have a bunch of other pics from other road trips that I want to first post for you. I am obviously falling behind on posting pics!
Here is a question for you — answer it and I might post your e-mail: Should Americans who are evacuated by the federal government reimburse the government the cost of the evacuation?
Now for some e-mails. The first e-mail posted today is from Catherine Herridge — an update on Peter and her family:
E-mail No. 1
Since I last emailed, it has been non-stop for Peter. The baby gets a little freedom and the next thing you know he is dragging you all over this town. This weekend we took in the classic car race in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park. It's terrific to catch up on a lot of "baby things" with him — he kind of got ripped off in the first six months of life.
We have taken in more movies, mostly because it is boiling hot here and the air conditioning is so good. We have been hitting a lot of matinees because for the next few months we have to avoid large crowds, i.e. the food court at the mall on a Saturday.
Until the end of the year, Peter's anti-rejection drugs are at a higher level so he won't reject the liver and as a result his immune system is low — so we have to avoid potentially hot germy places. I don't think it will be too difficult.
This morning we took him for his first outpatient appointment at the hospital. Peter is going twice a week for a few weeks to be sure everything stays good. His blood tests were normal, which was great news.
We also met a girl at the clinic who was about 13 or 14 years old. She looked like any other kid her age and her mother told us she'd had multiple organ transplants — liver, heart and lung. It was amazing and encouraging to see a kid in such good shape.
I am spending a lot of time now writing everyone who donated to the transplant program. My goal is to write five letters a day and I hope to do all of them before I go back to work. It is a long list and it is amazing to me how many people sent a gift who I have never met. One of our colleagues at FOX sent $500 — that was incredible to me. Thank you!
Have got to run, I think Peter wants to hit another movie.
Catherine, JD, Jamie and Peter
E-mail No. 2
Ha! You and my husband have something in common.... you both own 1 share of the beloved Green Bay Packers. He is a Wisconsin transplant living in steamy Louisiana for 11 years now. He saw the news of the locker room tour and actually thought for a split second about buying a plane ticket!
Gotta love the Cheeseheads! Go Packers!
ANSWER: Christine, I feel like your husband — I would like to go, too. We Cheeseheads think alike!
E-mail No. 3
Shepard Smith did announce on the air that he was going on a week's vacation and seemed so excited. Now all of a sudden he is in Israel reporting live. Was his vacation postponed? Watch you guys every night and although we have never met any of you we seem to get attached to you guys. So your fans do like to know when something changes for you guys. Hope everyone stay safes.
Thanks in advance,
ANSWER: It is not uncommon in this business that vacation plans get aborted. When violence broke out, Shep immediately gave up his vacation and headed to the Mideast. It is not uncommon for Shep to do something like this. I am sure he never thought twice about it.
E-mail No. 4
You need to let Shepard know that his Yankees just won. I'm sure he could use the smile, considering what he's been thru today, poor thing.
Keep up the good work, all of you!
New York, NY
ANSWER: I got the above e-mail during the show last night. I immediately — during a commercial — forwarded it to Shep in Israel.
Finally, an article that caught my attention:
Send your thoughts and comments to: email@example.com
Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET