Growing up during the Watergate era meant Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were household names. In high school, I read their famed All The President’s Men about President Nixon and the illegal activity taking place in the White House. Due in part to the journalistic duo, my fascination with Nixon, turned into a decades-long history lesson. My bookshelves contain over 70 Nixon books. Dinner guests know to expect at least one Nixon story before the evening is completed.
Today there are reporters who are cutting their teeth on the impeachment process of Donald Trump. There are surely new ‘Gregorys’ around the nation just starting to take an interest in national events. The cycle of reporting on this political story with historical implications will create yet another generation of engaged citizens.
That is why I found this story from Politico to be perfectly toned as it made me reflect back to the journalistic heroes from my teenage years. The work today’s intrepid reporters are doing for their newspapers and publications will leave our citizens informed and our nation stronger.
This is the proverbial room where it happens — a storied and mysterious place in which witnesses spill secrets that could lead to the third impeachment in U.S. history — and no one on the outside will ever know the full extent of what transpired.
As Republicans gleefully point out, the Trump impeachment inquiry can best be understood by those doors, emblazoned with a scarlet sign reading “Restricted Area — No public or media access.”
For weeks, we’ve spent entire days stationed outside the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, pronounced skiff) waiting.
And waiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of the men and women who submit to lawmakers’ interrogation and, if we’re lucky, a morsel of new information from a lawyer or a lawmaker who might be in the mood to dish.
There’s a code of camaraderie outside the SCIF, too. When lawmakers or witnesses are spotted heading toward the facility or exiting, those of us closest to the action will call ahead to our colleagues on other floors to let them know where to station themselves for a second chance to ask a crucial question. Shouts of “heads-up!” reverberating up those spiral stairs jolt everyone to attention.
When it’s clear a lawmaker isn’t going to spill his or her guts about that day’s testimony, we often ask the only thing likely to get a substantive response: How much longer will the interview go? We’ve become so jaded that even when the answer is “almost done,” we brace ourselves for several more hours of waiting and use the time to replenish our depleted caffeine.