Democracy Dies in Darkness


Andrea Mitchell remembers what it was like being carried out of a news conference

July 31, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Andrea Mitchell has been a TV journalist for 40 years. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Andrea Mitchell, 71, had to borrow “TV clothes” from another newswoman the first time she reported on television. She lives with husband Alan Greenspan in Washington.

What makes a great interview? No pressure.

I think the best interviews are when you really listen to the answers. It’s something I learned from Tim Russert. He said, “Always listen in between the seams of someone’s answer.”

Forty years in television news! How did you make that happen?

It doesn’t seem like a long career, like decades of reporting, because you always get excited about the next story on the horizon.

In 2005 you were dragged out of a press conference by security for asking the Sudanese president about genocide. Is that the awesomest and most badass thing you’ve ever done?

There was a moment where I was literally carried out of a similar photo opportunity with Bashar al-Assad’s father [Hafez al-Assad].

You were carried?

Carried by his security officers. It was a photo opportunity with Bill Clinton, 1993, I think, in Damascus at the presidential palace. I was asking a question about his support for terrorists. The frustrating thing was they started carrying me out —

How did they pick you up?

Under the arms. Two big guys came up and picked me up and carried me out. My feet were dangling. I didn’t want to louse up the photo opportunity because it was the only chance to get the picture we all wanted, Clinton and Assad. So I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want my protests to interfere with the moment for the pool.

So you’re silent as they’re picking you up.

And I’m watching Bill Clinton, who looked, I have to say, amused. Because he’d had enough, I’m sure, of all of our questions at photo opportunities.

I hear you bring a box [to stand on] to scrums so people will see you first.

The really perilous thing is if you’re on the rope line and you’re covering the presidential campaign — with the [Hillary] Clinton campaign for months at a time it was the only way to really talk to her — sometimes you’d be ducking under barriers and standing on folding chairs. Folding chairs are very dangerous. They collapse. So you have to develop a strategy. We have these camera boxes, light boxes. Packing boxes that we travel with. I’m short.

I’ll write that down.

I feel like I am a tall person. In my next incarnation I will be a tall person. But I’m 5-3. I can’t peer over the camera, but I can crawl under.

Is there anything you don’t want me to ask about?

Eating, sleeping habits. I’m a bad influence on anyone who cares about a healthy life. It’s always awkward when someone asks about my personal time, because none of us have a life since the beginning of the 2016 campaign.

What is Alan Greenspan’s most annoying personal habit?

Talking about differential equations when I want to talk about food and fashion.

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