No, re­port­ing on the White House isn’t glam­orous.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

Mer­ri­man Smith, the most fa­mous White House cor­re­spon­dent for four decades, from Franklin Roo­sevelt to Richard Nixon, was of­ten of­fered less-gru­el­ing beats by his bosses at United Press In­ter­na­tional. He de­clined. Smith saw the beat as “glam­orous and im­por­tant” and the only one that “sated [his] com­pet­i­tive zeal,” ac­cord­ing to a mono­graph about him. That per­cep­tion hasn’t changed. Re­porters still fight for the White House as­sign­ment, with its ex­ten­sive for­eign travel, fre­quent sto­ries on Page One and all the air­time a TV cor­re­spon­dent could crave.

But there’s of­ten noth­ing splen­did about the work. Cor­re­spon­dents en­dure un­ex­plained odors and re­cur­ring ro­dent in­fes­ta­tions in their White House workspace. My desk in the base­ment has suf­fered through fre­quent flood­ing. Then there are the hours spent at White House stake­outs in the rain, snow and heat, never cer­tain if a vis­it­ing lawmaker will deign to come out. Or the nights spent in vans on pool duty (a te­dious job in which re­porters take turns record­ing com­ings and go­ings for the rest of the press corps that couldn’t be on site).

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