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Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
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"He Asked" Transcript
David Hume Kennerly:

When I heard that Reagan was going to go meet with Gorbachev, I immediately called one of the people in the White House Press Office, Mark Weinberg. And Mark was like the guy who handled photo requests, and I said I would love to get inside the summit. And this is like right off the bat. And I think his concern was well, if other people ask...then he told me I could do it. But a lot of it hinged on whether other requests were going to be made. So I was kind of on for weeks, wondering whether or not it would actually happen. And it meant I would need to fly from L.A. to Geneva, but I had to have an assurance I'd get it. Well, finally I got the assurance.

But I got in there and it was—also, what had been negotiated was one photographer from the American side and one photographer from the Soviet side—the officials. So when they all showed up, there was one from their side and one from our side, plus me. And they were complaining about the fact that I was in there and all that, but nobody could because only the principals and the biggies were in there, so nobody could really make a scene about it. And so I was able to stay in. And when they sat down in front of the fireplace, the Soviet photographer actually didn't know that they had gone down there. So it was just me and the White House guy. And no one asked us to leave, so they're having this meeting at the fireplace, and they're talking substance, and I'm shooting away. And finally the door opens, and here comes the Soviet photographer, and he's like breathing heavily after they told him, "They walked down to the boathouse," which was the shot, and I got it. And so the rest of the press raised hell—"How did Kennerly get it?" And went to Larry Speaks and said, "Why did Kennerly get in there?" And Speaks looked at them and said, "He asked."

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audio clipHe Asked
The Briscoe Center for American History