White House Access

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BOB SCHIEFFER: I’m Bob Schieffer.

H. ANDREW SCHWARTZ: And I’m Andrew Schwartz.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And these are conversations about the news. We’re in the midst of a communications revolution. We have access to more information than any people in history. But are we more informed, or just overwhelmed by so much information we can’t process it?

MR. SCHWARTZ: Our podcast is a collaboration of the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at TCU and the CSIS in Washington.

MR. SCHIEFFER: In this first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, we’re talking to the reporters who are covering the president the closest, the White House press corps.

(Music plays.)

MR. SCHWARTZ: This podcast was recorded just after President Trump’s first 100 days in office. Access to the president and his staff is always an issue to contend with for White House reporters. We spoke with Reuters’ Jeff Mason at a time when access was better than it is currently. But if we’ve learned anything about this White House, it’s that access is constantly changing. We hope you enjoy this fascinating conversation with Reuters’ Jeff Mason.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Our guest this time is Jeff Mason, who is the correspondent for the Reuters news agency at the White House, and has been there since 2009. Jeff, since this is about the news and for journalists, and for others as well, we always like to start out, tell us a little bit about how you got to the White House and what was your journey to being a White House correspondent?

JEFF MASON: Well, that’s a good question. I joined Reuters in 2000 in Europe, as a correspondent in Germany, and worked there for three and a half years, and then moved to Brussels, Belgium, and covered the European Union for three and a half years. I should have said three and half years for both countries. And then applied that year for what was then my dream job, to cover the campaign in the U.S. And I got that job, even though at the time I think you could have easily called it a reach. And covered the 2008 campaign. And as is natural for a lot of campaign reporters, moved into the White House from there.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And where’d you go to school?

MR. MASON: I went to Northwestern. I did an undergrad and a master’s degree at Medill.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And where’d you grow up?

MR. MASON: I grew up in Colorado.

MR. SCHIEFFER: In Colorado?

MR. MASON: Yes. I was actually born in Germany, which is one reason I went back as an adult, because my dad was in the Air Force. But we moved to Colorado when I was two, and that’s where I spent my childhood.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So here you are now covering the White House and, I must say, a much different White House than any of us have ever known about. And you find yourself in the necessary but I would say often thankless job of being the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. You were the one that was on the spot when the Trump folks said he’s not coming to the dinner this year. How did you find out about that? How did they let you know?

MR. MASON: I found out about that the same way everybody else did, which was via President Trump’s tweet. And I was upset about that. And we talked about that later, because we have worked very hard, as I continue to repeat, to build a constructive relationship with President Trump’s press team. And I felt that we had enough of a relationship that they could have given me a heads-up ahead of time.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Did they – when you went to them, did you say, why is not coming, or?

MR. MASON: Well, yes. I mean, I’m not sure if I asked the question like that, but their explanation was what he has said, that they felt it was disingenuous to go because of the way they feel they’ve been treated by the press. And I made clear, and continued to make clear repeatedly, that he was welcome. And not only was he welcome, but certainly his staff was. And then a few weeks after that, as you know, they told us that the staff was also not going to attend. And that, in some ways, was almost a bigger blow. I think we knew there was chance that President Trump would decide not to come – although, I will say, I was surprised. I thought he would decide he would want to be there. But when they said that the staff was not coming out of, quote-unquote, “solidarity,” that – I feel like that was a real blow, and a really, really unfortunate signal to the country and to the press.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you decided to go ahead and have the dinner anyway.

MR. MASON: Absolutely.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I guess there must have been some thought about just cancelling the whole thing. Why did you decide to go ahead?

MR. MASON: You know, there really wasn’t thought about it. We – I think that in a conversation at one point with the executive committee of the board we just had an out loud conversation about our options and maybe said that out loud just because you have to include it in your options. But there was never any – not even an iota of serious consideration given to not having our dinner.

This dinner is not only a showcase for the good journalism and scholarship and award winners that it is and that you saw, but it’s also our only fundraiser. And we use that to raise funds for our scholarship program, but also for – to pay our bills and to do our programming. So you wouldn’t just lightly take the decision not to – not to hold it because somebody decided not to show up.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, it was a success by any measure. I think you announced at the dinner that, again, it was sold out this year.

MR. MASON: Yes, it was.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So financially it was a success. But I would also say, you made what I thought was quite a well-received speech. In fact, you got the biggest ovation of the – of the dinner when you talked about who we are. And we’re going to just play a little excerpt of that here.

MR. MASON: (From video.) Our job, to report on facts and to hold leaders accountable. That is who we are. We are not fake news. (Cheers, applause.) We are not failing news organizations. (Cheers, applause.) And we are not the enemy of the American people.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So, why did you think it was necessary to make that speech?

MR. MASON: I have approached this job as president of the Correspondents’ Association in the same way that I approach my job as a correspondent, which is it to be fair, to be straight down the middle, to be honest about – in my reporting and in my representation, in this case, of the press corps. And I felt it was important to note in the context there of President Trump being absent, which you couldn’t just ignore when you’re sitting on the dais, that we had worked on this relationship, as I was saying before, that access under the White House has been – under the Trump White House has been good, which I think is important to note.

But that it was time to also, in that space and in that room with those people watching, to also acknowledge the damage that the rhetoric that President Trump has employed has done. And not just the damage it has done, but the risks of using that type of language towards the press in terms of risks to the First Amendment, which was kind of the theme of our – of our night. And so you asked why then? I just – I just felt like that was – that was our time to do that. And for whatever reason I’m in this space and in this job right now. I was elected 2 ½ years ago. So I would have never known that that’s what was going to happen at this dinner. But I wanted to not shy away from it. And I wanted to be fair. And I feel – I feel like that’s what I achieved.

MR. SCHIEFFER: You got an overwhelming positive response from journalistic circles.

MR. MASON: Yeah.

MR. SCHIEFFER: What else – did you hear from others? What was the reaction from other people?

MR. MASON: I’ve gotten a lot of really, really heartening feedback from my colleagues in the press corps. And honestly, even in the White House I haven’t – you know, I took Monday off but I was back at the White House on Tuesday. And there were – everyone acted the same. I had one spokesperson – who I’ll not name – tell me: Nice job on Saturday. So they were clearly watching. And I understand, although I haven’t verified this, that Sean Spicer quoted me at one point, I don’t know if it was in an interview or somewhere else, as saying I had said at the dinner that access was good. Which is kind of funny, that he would choose that quote, but fair enough. I did say that and I meant it.

But, you know, there are some people, particularly supporters of the president, who I’ve seen on Twitter who have reacted very negatively. And that’s fine. Everybody has the right under the First Amendment to disagree with what I said or to agree with what I said.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you won’t be the president next year. But do you think the Correspondents’ Association will invite Trump to come next year?

MR. MASON: I think so, yes. I think that the principles that the Correspondents’ Association stands for include inclusion in this case. And that means even if there’s tension between the president and the press corps – which there inevitably is, and will no doubt still be the case a year from now, although hopefully it’ll be a little less tense – that it’s important to us to invite the president. So I’m – it won’t be my decision, but I suspect that he will be welcome next year, just as he would have been welcome this year.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let’s bring in Andrew Schwartz.

MR. SCHWARTZ: Thanks, Bob. And, Jeff, great having you here.

MR. MASON: Thank you.

MR. SCHWARTZ: You’ve had some good access personally. Reuters has had some good access. You had the 100 days interview, where the president made some news. Tell us about what it’s like being a White House correspondent in this administration and what this access has been like.

MR. MASON: Well, it’s fascinating. I mean, it’s – any good journalist likes to be part of a big and good story. Bob, certainly, knows that. And –

MR. SCHIEFFER: And this is a good story.

MR. MASON: It’s a phenomenal story. It’s just a phenomenal story. So being in the middle of it as a reporter, and getting to see that happen and report and write about it is fascinating. And it was fascinating to interview the president. I did that with two of my colleagues. And we spent a good hour in the Oval Office, 45 minutes of which were the actual interview itself. And we – you know, we talked about a whole lot of issues, from North Korea to health care to his reflections on this life prior to coming into office.

MR. SCHWARTZ: He told you it was harder.

MR. MASON: He said he expected it to be easier than his previous life, yes. And that made a lot of news. You know, I think this is a president who campaigned much differently from any previous presidential candidate, whose expectations were significantly different, having never held elected office before. And he was very honest about that. And that’s interesting, that he doesn’t censor himself on that or anything else, for that matter. And that makes interviewing him very interesting.

MR. SCHWARTZ: Are the people around him interesting also to talk to?

MR. MASON: Oh, absolutely, yes.

MR. SCHWARTZ: How so? I mean, are you – when you’re a White House correspondent you’re constantly interacting with the staff. Who are you talking to there, and what kind of access do you have to them?

MR. MASON: So, White House correspondents – anyone who comes in to cover the White House has physical access to two areas of the West Wing that we call lower press and upper press. And those are the areas where basically the president’s spokespeople and their assistants sit and have offices and desks. The upper press area is only steps away from the Oval Office. So you’re right in the heart of the West Wing. And people – it’s not just spokespeople who are there. You will have in – you know, in the Trump administration, senior advisors such as Steve Bannon or chief of staff Reince Priebus just walk around up there and swing by to speak to Sean or somebody else. So if you happen to be there at the same time, you run into them. But you also run into the spokespeople. And they’re kind of your first point of reference for questions about stories.

MR. SCHIEFFER: So we see the briefings.

MR. MASON: Yes. Everybody seems to see the briefings.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And they’re very combative.

MR. SCHWARTZ: They get good ratings, I hear.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I heard that from the president. (Laughter.) But what I’m interested in – and I covered the White House for five years way back when – there’s often a difference in the – in the atmosphere of the briefing, which is on television, and dealing with the people off-camera. How is that? Is it still pretty much that way? Is it a difference off-camera than on-camera?

MR. MASON: There’s a little bit of a difference, but I think what you see is what you get. You don’t have a dramatic difference between Sean Spicer on camera versus Sean off camera. He – and we deal with him a lot on the Correspondents’ Association level because he’s our main interlocutor for press-White House relations. But, yeah, you know, the way you see him on TV, he has ups and downs like all of us do – (laughs) – and you see that in his office as well.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, tell me, when you’re talking about as a president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, what would be the issues, as it were, that would come up in that job?

MR. MASON: So, everything from at the very beginning of the administration a discussion about whether the press briefings should be held in the briefing room, to during the transition the question about the pool and the formation of the pool and –

MR. SCHWARTZ: This is the press pool?

MR. MASON: The press pool, exactly. To more mundane things, like making sure that transcripts of speeches and press conferences and briefings are shared with the press corps, to making sure that everyone from still photographers to videographers to foreign reporters have access to press conferences or meetings with foreign leaders. It can be very sort of minutia-type stuff, or it can be the really big-picture stuff.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you have anything to do with the credentialing of correspondents who cover the White House? On the Hill – kind of the Correspondents’ Association basically decides who gets a press pass. Is that the way it is at the White House?

MR. MASON: It is not. And it’s a good question, because a lot of people think that we do have control over who comes into the press room, and we don’t. We are not a credentialing organization. We do, obviously, make decisions about who can become a member of the Correspondents’ Association. And to be a member of our association you have to be an accredited journalist. But it is the White House that determines who gets into that press room, who can attend briefings, et cetera.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And do they decide who sits where in the press room during the briefings?

MR. MASON: That’s a good question. The Correspondents’ Association decides the seating chart. So, and that has happened over several different administrations that that authority was passed on to the Correspondents’ Association so that there is a neutral arbiter for who sat where. And it’s a big responsibility.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And we were talking about access, and I want to get back to that. How are the folks in this administration, say, compared to the previous administration, to be able to get in touch with them?

MR. MASON: They’re accessible. The spokespeople answer the phones and answer emails. I feel like phones have taken – have gotten kind of a comeback in a way that, you know, previously everything would have been email. And now I think people pick up the phones more, which is no doubt related to the fact that emails have been hacked and email traffic gets published when it’s not intended to be.

MR. SCHWARTZ: That’s really interesting.

MR. MASON: It is. It is interesting. I mean, there are – there are spokespeople on the Obama team or in the Obama years who I can’t think of ever having had a phone conversation with. And that is much different here.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, I am – over the years, I’m always asked what is the most secretive and most manipulative administration you’ve covered in more than 40 years in Washington. And I always say, the current one. (Laughter.) Which happens to be because everyone learns from the previous group. But I think this group, looking at it from the outside, I think they’ve broken the mold. I mean, when I see stories in The Washington Post that says – (laughs) – according to 21 sources or according to 17 sources, there are a lot of people in this administration who are talking to reporters. And frankly, I don’t think there were that many in some of the previous – certainly not in this most recent administration.

MR. MASON: Yeah, I think that’s fascinating now, when I read a story like that. And it makes me wish that they would include their source list at the bottom of the story. (Laughter.) But that’s a competitive –


MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, sure.

MR. MASON: – thing coming out in that case, yeah.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But there are a lot of people talking on background because they see their own – it’s like it is in any administration. When people feel like on the inside they’re getting screwed, they’re going to tell somebody about it and get their side of the story out.

MR. MASON: That’s right. That’s right.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But I see a lot of that. So are you the recipient of that kind of information, or are you talking to a lot of people? What I would say – do you feel day-to-day you talk to more people in this administration than, say, you did in the previous ones?

MR. MASON: No, I wouldn’t say that. But I would also add the caveat to that, which is at least for the last three months or so, since President Trump’s administration took over, I’ve been balancing my two jobs. I mean, my day job is to be a White House correspondent for Reuters. But more than half, and sometimes close to 80 to 90 percent of my days, particularly in the run-up to the correspondents’ dinner, have been focused on my association work. So that’s not to say that I’m not still a reporter. I am. That’s who I am and that’s why I do what I do. But I haven’t invested as much time into daily reporting as I will once my term is up in July.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, now is Reuters OK with that?

MR. MASON: Reuters has been very supportive, yes. And I think, you know, we take turns at the Correspondents’ Association, essentially, in terms of who’s president and who’s on the board. And when I say take turns, I mean there’s an election and we are all elected representatives of the press corps. But when you go into that type of a role, certainly I asked for support from my news organization before running for election, and they provided it.

MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, but explain for us why is it so – why is the White House Correspondents’ Association so important? I mean, I think a lot of people want to get in under the hood and see what’s going on inside the White House and don’t really know. Tell us why this is so important?

MR. MASON: Well, I love that question. I think that a lot of people in this country think of – or connect the White House Correspondents’ Association with our annual dinner. And that’s fine, because it’s very high profile. And in many years it’s high profile because a bunch of celebrities show up and they’re interested in seeing them. But this year that wasn’t the case. And this year the message of the First Amendment and promoting the importance of good journalism was what we talked about. And the reason we talked about that is because that’s really what we’ve been doing for the last few months, and for decades before that.

The reason the Correspondents’ Association is important is we are quite literally the on-the-ground people who are fighting for these rights. And that manifests itself in these meetings that we were talking about, that I have with Sean Spicer or that the full board has with him and his team. That manifests itself in some of the what we can safely call victories that we’ve had in those negotiations about staying in the press room, about staying on Air Force One. Those are real. And it is the – it is the group of correspondents who make up the board that are doing that on a daily basis.

MR. SCHWARTZ: For a while it seemed like it was touch and go. You might not have had the kind of access that you now have. President was talking about failing in fake news. Didn’t seem like you were going to be able to be in the press room at all.

MR. MASON: Yeah, and he still talks about that, which is the really fascinating irony and dichotomy between some of what he does and what he and his administration have actually done with the press. And there were reasons to be concerned going in, based on how he handled the press during his campaign. There were news organizations that were banned, that weren’t – did not receive credentials to cover events. He did not have reporters traveling with him regularly on this plane, which is unusual and which we objected to at the time as well. So there were lots of reasons to go in thinking that this might be a real challenge in terms of access for journalists.

And it has been a challenge. But I think he – I think the president and I think his team have seen the value of having the press pool close by and by having the press corps close by more generally, so that they can get their own message out.

MR. SCHWARTZ: Explain what it’s like being part of the pool now.

MR. MASON: So the pool is that 13-member group of journalists who travel on Air Force One or, when the president is in town, who are in the vans in his motorcade that go with him off campus, or when it’s just at the White House, who go into the Oval Office when he’s having a meeting with a foreign leader or whatever it is. So you – the pool is the eyes and ears for the whole press corps. And by extension, for the country and everyone who we are reporting for. It is fascinating to be in the pool with any president. And I’ve only covered two, but with this president, you know, he does engage.

And he – you know, we’ve had some back and forth. This goes back to your question about what’s the importance of the Correspondents’ Association. We had to explain, and sometimes pretty robustly, to his press team that it’s the job of journalists when they go into the Oval Office or wherever to ask questions, because President Trump’s people didn’t always like that, and – or felt that it was impolite or – I had one person say at one point, you know, this is the only president who’s ever had journalists shout at him in the Oval Office. And I just said –

MR. SCHIEFFER: Oh, really? (Laughter.)

MR. MASON: I said that’s just not true. And so if it makes you feel better to know this has been happening to every previous president, then let me assure you that it has. And that person actually said, well, that does make me feel better, so. (Laughs.)

MR. SCHIEFFER: You know, I –

MR. SCHWARTZ: They’re learning as they’re going.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I’ll never forget when Ronald Reagan was leaving. And the day of the inauguration of his successor. And Barbara Bush was on there on the sidewalk when Reagan came out the other side of the capital to get in the limo to take him to the helicopter. And as he came out, Sam Donaldson of ABC shouted a question. And Barbara Bush turned around to no one in particular, I just happened to be standing there, and said: Isn’t that sweet, he’s getting his last shouted question. (Laughter.) So –

MR. MASON: That’s awesome. I love it.

MR. SCHIEFFER: There are going to be a lot of shouted questions, so they might as well just get used to that.

MR. MASON: There are. Yeah.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me – (laughs) – it strikes me that some of the real problems that this president has had is – in his early days – is he was simply unfamiliar with the process. This has nothing to do with policy or access or non-access. He was just unfamiliar with kind of how things worked, how do get from point A to point B, which staffers work in the government and which ones are political appointees. It’s my understanding that he was – he thought most of the people on the White House staff were permanent. And he learned, obviously, otherwise. Is he unfamiliar? Is he learning? Is that a problem?

MR. MASON: I think he’s definitely learning. I think that there has been a big learning curve for him and for the people who work for him. And I think that would have been the case regardless of who came in. I mean, I guess if Hillary Clinton had won the election, there – she had more people around her who had worked in White Houses before, be it the Obama White House or President Bill Clinton’s White House. But, you know, there’s always going to be a learning curve when you get there. And I think the learning curve for the Trump administration or the Trump White House has been particularly, largely, again, because this is a man who had no experience in elected office.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Or in the military.

MR. MASON: Or in the military, that’s exactly right – exactly. So – and the people around him – now, he’s got some people who have experience from previous administrations.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But not many.

MR. MASON: But not many. And so for the press corps, that has been – there’s been a learning curve too, you know? And we have to get accustomed to some of their rhythms, and they’ve had to get accustomed to some of ours.

MR. SCHWARTZ: One thing I just have to ask you, is when you went in with your colleagues to the Oval Office to interview the president, and he’s made it very clear that he loves the Oval Office, he likes the power of it, he likes the symbolism of it, what were some of the optics? Were there people around? What was it like for you to go in and interview him there?

MR. MASON: It was fascinating on multiple levels. We got in. It was me, my colleague Steve Holland, and our editor-in-chief Steve Adler. We walked into the Oval and he was seated at his desk. And there were two friends of his seated at the opposite side of the desk, where we expected to be sitting down for our interview. And he just invited us in to kind of join that conversation. And we sat down with them and visited for about 15 minutes.

MR. SCHWARTZ: And these are personal friends. These aren’t staff friends, or –

MR. MASON: These are personal friends, yes. Well, supporters.

MR. SCHWARTZ: So was this, at this point, on the record or off the record?

MR. MASON: I think we – it was – it was off the record. So that’s – and that’s – for that reason, I’m also not going to name them.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, Glenn Thrush told us exactly the same thing.

MR. MASON: Did he?

MR. SCHIEFFER: When he and his colleague at The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, interviewed Trump.


MR. SCHIEFFER: And he said he – you know, he remembered interviewing Barack Obama, and as have we all. You know, when you’re in the Oval Office with the president, I mean, there’s nobody else in there but who needs to be in there, in my case, obviously, a cameraman. But nobody comes and goes. He said in the midst of their interview people were coming into the Oval Office, hey, Jack, how you doing, leaving. He said it was just kind of like a parade. He said then at one point here comes Mike Pence, the vice president, and Reince Priebus. And they listen for a little while, and then they left. (Laughs.) He said it was a totally different experience. It sounds to me like you had exactly the same –

MR. MASON: Exactly the same. Vice President Pence came in, Reince Priebus came in. It was – it was – I hate to – I don’t want to call it casual, because you’re not casual in the Oval Office. But it was relaxed in that sense. It was a formal interview, but it was a relaxed atmosphere.

MR. SCHIEFFER: I think he is probably the first president since Lyndon Johnson who actually works in the Oval Office. That seems to be his main – his main office.

MR. MASON: It does. It seems – I think you’re absolutely right that he likes to be in there. And he also likes to be behind that desk. He doesn’t sit in sort of the chair/couch area as often for things like this, for interviews, as President Obama did.

MR. SCHIEFFER: My sense of it is that he is really the first president since Johnson who would deal directly with reporters. I mean, when Johnson didn’t like a story, he personally would call reporters and tell them about it, and call them into the Oval Office and ream them out. And – but the difference, my sense of it, between Johnson and Trump, Johnson was the master of the process. He knew every button to push. He knew which button to push to get something done. And to me, my sense is, that Trump is still learning that part of the job.

MR. MASON: I think that’s true. I think however he also brings a history of relations with the press corps – well, let me rephrase that. Not with the press corps, but with journalists that he had as a businessman in New York. And he was accustomed to doing exactly what you just said, calling up individual reporters directly to complain or to chit-chat. That’s something that he was used to. I don’t think that that happens as much now that he’s president, although I don’t know. But the fact that after the health care bill failed the first time, that some of his first calls were to journalists – and in fact, journalists at news organizations that he has criticized – was rather revealing.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But it is kind of interesting that while he’ll, you know, rant and rave about the failing New York Times, he’ll give an interview to Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman.

MR. MASON: Bingo.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And he’s done that – it’s not exactly like CBS has been easy on him. I mean, I think we played it right down the middle. But he gave John Dickerson an exclusive on the 100 days.

MR. MASON: Yes, he did. Yeah.

MR. SCHIEFFER: And then, walked off, you know, and went over and sat down at his desk and pouted because he didn’t like one question John had asked. But after that, John still gets on Air Force One with him, and they fly to Pennsylvania and they have dinner together.

MR. MASON: Right.

MR. SCHWARTZ: The night of the correspondents’ dinner.

MR. MASON: I was going to say, the –

MR. SCHIEFFER: And the night of the correspondents’ dinner.

MR. MASON: – same day and night as our dinner.

MR. SCHWARTZ: It’s really different. And, you know, in addition to him having relationship with journalists in his past life and now, he also has a deep relationship with television. And he seems to really understand optics and visuals. I mean, I’ve heard people in pop culture talking about, you know, this is like – this is like a reality show. It’s addicting to watch him on cable news. Do you see that as you’re covering?

MR. MASON: I think he cares a lot about television. And I can tell you an anecdote. The first time – I think this was his first meeting with a foreign leader. There may have been another, but I believe this was at least one of his first, when Prime Minister May from Britain came to visit at the White House. I was in the press pool that day. And we walked in to the Oval Office for a quick photo. And normally he would be sitting in those chairs next to the couch, the couches. And instead, that day, he was standing with Prime Minister May, and had decided he wanted to have the picture taken in front of the bust of Winston Churchill.

So – but they didn’t decide that in advance. So the whole press corps was right there. And then you saw President Trump moving a lamp, or asking one of his staff members to move a lamp, as we’re standing there, so that the picture could be just exactly what he envisioned. And I think that just showed the eye of a television person, of a producer of a television reality TV star for exactly the picture and exactly the footage he had in mind.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, a White House correspondent, and a chief reality show correspondent – (laughter) – of the biggest reality show on television right now, thanks so much. We really enjoyed talking to you and wish you the very best. For Andrew Schwartz, this is Bob Schieffer. Thanks for listening.

(Music plays.)