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Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
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"Persistence And Planning" Transcript
Dirck Halstead:

How do you get behind that Blue Curtain? How can you somehow be there when something important happens? And so during the Reagan White House, I had started to formulate a plan, right after the beginning of the second term, that I wanted to be inside with the Reagans in their last hours in the White House. And for months before the inaugural, I would start pleading with people at the White House, taking people to lunch—"Please, let me do this." And they kept saying, "No, no, no." And on the morning of the inaugural—and I was to actually go to the Hill in the [press] pool with Bush and President Reagan. I came in early, and I had with me my cameras, and I walked into the press office, and there was nobody there except one guy named Mark Weinberg, who had been the official minder of the photographers, and he was packing up his things. And, I walked up to him, and this is like seven o'clock in the morning, and I said, "Mark, what can it hurt? You know, just let me do it!" And Mark said, "I don't care what you do. You just go ahead and do whatever you want." And so, about nine o'clock, I walked up the hallway all alone—Mark wasn't with me. Walked past the Secret Service guy and I said, "I'm going down to see the President." "Okay." And walked into the Oval Office, and here is the president cleaning out his desk and looking back toward the desk. I took that picture and now, I walked out of the door of the Oval Office onto the portico with the president and we walked down the portico and into the White House. Pushed the button on the elevator; went up to the state floor, and there's the First Lady waiting for him. All this time he's (President Reagan) is telling me jokes—the entire time. And I found myself all alone with the President and First Lady—there's one uniformed Secret Service guy—and what they're doing right here is that they're waiting for the Bushes to arrive in their motorcade. If you walk into the Ronald Reagan Library, you will find this picture blown up life-size as you go out of the Oval Office. It's the last thing you see as you go out the Reagan museum. So, that speaks to access and how do you get it? You get it by whatever means you possibly can.

(Audio excerpt from The Littlefield Society Symposium, March 28, 2003, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas)

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audio clipPersistence And Planning
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