Brian Williams began tonight’s NBC Nightly News telling viewers, “the reporters covering President Bush were told they could only tell their spouses and their boss who, in turn, weren’t allowed to tell anyone else that the President of the United States was leaving for a secret trip to Iraq.”
And so from Washington to Baghdad, a secret it remained. CBS Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan who, along with anchor Katie Couric, has been in the region since last Thursday, reveals to TVNewser how he learned of the President’s visit. “A General told us to be at his chopper at a certain time to travel to an undisclosed location…he had a big surprise…we didn’t know until the very last minute what was going on.”
Kaplan, Couric and their cameraman flew from Baghdad to the al Anbar province to cover the president’s visit with the troops and meetings with Iraqi leaders. Couric’s interview with the president (which had audio problems during the east coast feed) led the Evening News tonight.
ABC’s chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, on her 14th reporting trip to Iraq, also got a one-on-one with the President at al Asad Air Base. In addition to Raddatz’s reporting, ABC’s Jonathan Karl, traveling with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, got an exclusive interview with Gates who was on hand for the president’s meetings at al Asad.
NBC’s John Yang was the pool reporter for the White House, and led off Nightly News. On the secrecy of the trip, Yang reported “Mr. Bush was spirited out of the White House on Sunday evening and driven to Andrews Air Force Base where he boarded Air Force One, while it was still in the hanger. White House officials won’t tell us how they did it. They tell us it worked so well, they just might want to try to do it again.”