It’s the price I pay for being my father’s daughter.
“She’ll probably fail,” Mom warned. I’ve been told that as my career has advanced into special events, I’ve earned the loss of her blessing. The last-minute layover. The last-minute delay. The last-minute hassle.
Faced with unanticipated situations and traveling plans that sometimes end at the airport, I’ve learned to bear it. No problem. Nothing to see here, folks. Just hop in the car and make the trip.
Boy, is that advice foolhardy. Here we are in October of 2016: man-made disasters happen regularly. Nuclear power plants inexplicably collapse. Media mega-disasters occur unexpectedly. Hurricane season plagues coastal cities. And you thought the government was the only organization that could handle everything?
Trump administration officials, whose POTUS issued a presidential disaster proclamation just a week earlier, were on display during the storm that caused more than 21 million people to lose power.
Trump administration officials, whose POTUS issued a presidential disaster proclamation just a week earlier, were on display during the storm that caused more than 21 million people to lose power. The Daily Beast called them: the government emergency-disaster playbook at work.
Now, add the winter storm to the mix and you’ve got one powder keg of disasters. Just imagine the media attention that could have been given to the highly anticipated, simultaneous NBC-CBS presidential debate had the storm not forced them to re-schedule it.
Yet, alas, the media event – the press pool for Barack Obama’s final days in office – was re-scheduled for Feb. 2, 2017, while hurricane Matthew devastated the Eastern Seaboard.
While the press was busily trying to pack the press pool with uncontrollable and unprecedented disaster tourism, the White House press corps was doing the same: conducting drama-filled retreats at luxurious, airport-adjacent retreats around the country with a few select D.C. influencers. Naturally, the White House press corps went by the traditional format that went like this: select one “spouse” from each travel group (and their offspring) to attend, and so on.
Then, the collective media coverage blew up. It hadn’t occurred to them that the travel plans were creating an adversarial dynamic. In their fear and anxiety over what might happen, the media played along.
“Transportation experts say people should focus on whether they could be affected by the storm before deciding whether to travel. ‘If you don’t have to travel, you shouldn’t,’ said Robert M. Stern, co-director of USC Gould School of Law’s Center for Disaster Risk Management.”
“News organizations are hoping the final outcome will be a normal gridlock-free affair, just like the 2016 debates – if they stick to their original game plan,” The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote.
All sides were messing with each other. But that started to shift after the broadcast networks apologized to their audience. After a morning briefing about the storms, ABC’s David Muir radio broadcast this sweet confession to his audience.
Ironic. “I regret the screw-ups we made today. We can’t stress this enough – you have to plan ahead. There’s no need to panic, but don’t pack more than you think you need, and don’t take an unlimited amount of water. I’ve been through this before, and always rely on FEMA.”
“Folks in the middle of the storm” – as I like to call it – “were getting pummeled by driving rain and near-record high winds. But Muir said on Twitter, “We’re all feeling okay, we’re home.”
Instead of following a predetermined government schedule, we get to engage in the crisis that political events created.
Anne Schneider is a journalist and editor. Anne is a contributor to the author and television producers Lois Romano, Francis Hewitt, and C. Lynn Powell. She has written for USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsday.