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Posts Tagged ‘Julia Whiston’

WHCA Board Gets Perk of More Water, Less Dew

The newly elected members of the White House Correspondents’ Assoc. board are already getting important results. More water. Less Mountain Dew and iced tea.

Here’s a letter that went out from Julia Whiston.

Hi everyone,
As part of our effort to work on “quality of life” issues for our members who work in the briefing room, we are seeking to make bottled water more readily available in the lunch area. The White House press office and GSA have informed us that more bottled water is on the way.  Due to popular demand, the water will replace one Mountain Dew dispenser and one iced tea dispenser.  Instead of one water dispenser, there will now be three in the lunch room vending machine for purchase.
The WHCA  Board
Julia Whiston
White House Correspondents’ Association

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The Divas of WHCDs Past

The WHCD has a reputation for being all glitter and glam. But a behind-the-scenes examination reveals not everything goes off as seamlessly as we think.

NJ recently interviewed the White House Correspondents’ Association’s executive director, Julia Whiston. She sheds some light on the biggest divas she’s worked with in the nearly 20 years that she’s been in charge of the dinner, since her first year in 1993.

Ray Charles, for example, wouldn’t play his version of “America the Beautiful” without an additional $250,000, a payment Whiston refused. And Aretha Franklin almost refused to go on stage because the room was air conditioned. She ultimately performed, with the air conditioning on.

The easiest to work with? Last year’s comedian, Jay Leno: “He comes into town. He decides to walk down Connecticut Avenue and look for McDonald’s for lunch. He is gracious with everybody that he sees who works at the hotel.”

Read more of the interview here.

WHCA Complains: Press Shut Out at White House

After being shut out of the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday,  the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) is appealing to the White House to give the press corps access to an event that’s been called one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year – the signing of the START Treaty.  In a letter to Press Sec. Robert Gibbs, the WHCA Board complained about their lack of access to the President throughout the crisis in Egypt and outlined their request to open today’s treaty signing to the White House pool.   Letter from Julia Whiston of the WHCA below:

Good morning Robert,

We recognize that the crisis in Egypt is a quickly evolving story and you are working to get us the information we need in a timely manner, but we are concerned about several access issues on Tuesday and now today.

On behalf of the White House Correspondents Association we are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the White House’s decision to close the President’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and his signing of the START Treaty today to the full press pool.

The START treaty was held up as one of the President’s most important foreign policy priorities for almost a year dating back to the trip to Prague last spring. We are concerned that now his signing of it is open to still photographers but closed to editorial, including print and wire reporters and television cameras.

We know the President came out late last night to speak on Egypt, and we appreciate the email updates from NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, but his emails have not gone to all members of the press corps and are not a substitute for access to the Press Secretary or the President.

Prior to the President’s statement Tuesday night, the press corps had not received a substantive update from the White House all day on the situation in Egypt. In addition, the press corps did not have an on-camera briefing, or an off-camera gaggle, with you yesterday to ask the White House about its decision-making process during this major foreign policy crisis. Now for two straight days the full press pool is being shut out of events that have typically been open and provided opportunities try to ask the President a question.

These issues are vitally important for all of our members – print, TV and radio.

We value our working relationship, and we hope you will reconsider and at least open the START Treaty signing to the full pool.

Thank you for your consideration,

The WHCA Board

Helen Thomas Seat TBD by August 2nd

In a memo to the White House Correspondents Association this afternoon, David Jackson advised that the association’s board plans to make final decisions by August 2nd about the White House briefing room seat left vacant by Helen Thomas. You’ll remember that both Fox News and Bloomberg are lobbying for the front-row seat. Memo obtained by FishbowlDC below:

From: WHCA
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2010 12:45 PM
Subject: Briefing Room Seating

The 2010-2011 Board of the White House Correspondents’ Association held its first meeting today and agreed to consider new seating requests for the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
After a brief evaluation period, the board hopes to make final seating decisions at a special meeting on Aug. 2.

David Jackson, President

WHCA Cracks Down on Crashers

WaPo‘s Reliable Source reports that would-be crashers at this year’s pre-WHCA Dinner cocktail parties might be out of luck. According to a memo from WHCA’s Julie Whiston, a winning smile and tux or gown won’t be enough to get you in to the slew of pre-parties held annually on the concourse-level of the Washington Hilton.

This year, guests will be required to present a printed invitation or dinner ticket to roam freely through the event. For more info, check out Reliable Source here and see the WHCA memo after the jump.

Read more

Update on White House Briefing Room

From Julia Whiston:

    As with any renovation project, the contract work has taken longer than originally projected. But more than three years since the serious discussions began on rebuilding the White House Briefing Room….we’re almost there! We moved out last August and our return date is the end of this month. So we are just about 2 1/2 weeks away from beginning the final phase of this effort: the move-back for networks, radio broadcasters, wire services and individual workstation occupants.

  • Here is the expected timeline:

    Briefing Room will be completed the week of June 25th, at which time the GSA & White House Office of Administration will turn it back over to us for OUR final contract & engineering work.

    The broadcasters and wire services will begin final move-back no later than Friday, June 29th.

    Engineers are planning to work through the weekend and during the week of July 2nd, with their completion date no later than Friday, July 6th.

    Barring any unforeseen disruptions, the briefing room will be operational effective Monday, July 9th.

    ABC’s Peter Doherty is coordinating the technical aspects of our move-back. This includes the complete re-wiring and installation of the racks in the swimming pool area, the Verizon Telco connections and the fiber wiring. Those news organizations impacted by this have already been notified about the timeline and expected work projects through the July 4th holiday week. Depending on your workspace/ workstation and the needs of our individual news organizations, you may be needed during this move-back period. In addition, all broadcasters who use the North Lawn, the cables (copper wiring project) have been restored to a new set of relay racks in the shallow end of the pool.

    On behalf of our association, the WHCA Board wants to again want to say THANK YOU to Peter, who has devoted countless hours to this effort. Also, to ABC News for giving Peter the time he needs to work on our behalf for ALL of us who will use the new briefing room. We could not have done this massive project without his dedicated service.

    We will keep you apprised of the move and any revisions to the expected timeline.