Change Happens Because of You: A Day in The White House Press Corps

I recently crossed off a bucket-list item I didn’t even know I had. I got to play “journalist-for-a-day,” with real media credentials and everything! Not just for *any* event, either — but for the 20th annual Tahoe Summit, with the President of the United States as keynote speaker!

COMM KT Obama Image 2016 09I showed up bright and early and was escorted past the long line of ticket-holders awaiting entry. At a separate table, away from the crowd, someone checked my name off a list and passed me over to Secret Service — yes, their bullet-proof vests actually said “Secret Service” — to get swiped by their wand and have my bag sniffed by a handsome bomb/drug-detecting Malinois. Then I was handed my media credentials, announcing me as a member of the “White House Press Corps.” The White House Press Corps, people!

Once seated under a large pop-up canopy labeled “Media Filing,” I tried to quell my imposter-paranoia, (I was sure someone was going to find out I wasn’t really a journalist) by letting my assignment editor Pascale, of, know that I was onsite. She laughed at me for arriving more than two hours prior to the start of the event — a rookie move, apparently — and suggested I use my down time to get some background photos of the crowd. Taking direction well, I left my seat and walked toward the outdoor bleachers set up to hold the 7,000-plus expected attendees. A kindly young media-minder yelled, “hey…you can’t go down there yet. We’ll take you in later.” I thanked him and returned to my seat, duly chastised. “Now they know, for sure, that I’m a fake,” I thought to myself.

When no one rose to kick me out, I let myself relax and soak in the fact that I was sitting in the Summit Media tent, with a White House badge around my neck, awaiting the arrival of POTUS. How very CJ Craig!

I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as he began his speech, I felt as if the President were speaking directly to me, reminding me that:

  • The challenges of conservation and combatting climate change are connected;
  • When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate for the future — so conservation is critical not just for one particular spot, but for our entire ecosystem; and
  • We embrace conservation because healthy and diverse lands and waters help us build resilience to climate change.

In a clear message to the business community the President also pointed out that during the same time that carbon pollution has hit its lowest level in a quarter century, we’ve actually experienced the longest streak of job creation on record. “There is no contradiction between being smart on the environment and having a strong economy.”

He even invoked SBC’s triple-bottom-line mission, suggesting, “The choice between our environment, our economy, and our health, is false one. We’ve got to strengthen all of them together.” He closed by encouraging everyone in attendance to continue working for positive change. “[T]he most important office in a democracy is the office of Citizen,” he concluded.

Not that I need outside affirmation about the importance of citizen action – I was playing the role of a journalist, after all – but there’s something particularly special about having your president be the one to remind you.

“Change happens because of you. Don’t forget that!” — President Barack Obama, 20th Annual Tahoe Summit (August 31, 2016)