WASHINGTON - NewsChannel5's Leon Bibb was invited by the White House to interview President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. on Monday. Follow updates here and on Twitter as Leon, multi-media journalist Mike Vielhaber ( @mvielhaber ) and online executive producer Mike Waterhouse ( @mikewaterhouse ).
UPDATE: Monday @ 2:15 p.m.
Leon Bibb's interview with President Obama is now finished. The president running about an hour behind schedule.
Their conversation topics included the auto industry, economy, NASA Glenn Research Center and education. We aren't allowed to reveal what he said until 5 p.m., but we'll post a new story with those details and the unedited interview once the 5 p.m. hold lifts.
What I found to be one of the most interesting parts of the meeting was what happened just before we went into the room with the president. Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest greeted the reporters and told Leon that he knew we were in town and ready to go for the interview based on the station's tweets. The staff clearly monitors social media to see what people are saying about the president.
UPDATE: Monday @ 10:38 a.m.
We were able to get through security at the White House gate relatively quickly. From there, we went to the White House Press Briefing Room, where we met with the communications person assisting us with the interview, Matt.
We then went up to the press platform outside to shoot a short segment for the noon news, and prepare for our later live shots at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Right now, we're waiting to go back to talk with the president. We're told we'll be taken back at about 11:15. More to come after the interview...
UPDATE: Monday @ 8:22 a.m.
Over a quick breakfast at the hotel, Leon and I chatted about what he's going to ask. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions via our website.
One overnight development that Leon may ask about is five U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. This is the single largest loss of life for the American military in Iraq the past two years, the Associated Press reported
Topics Leon hopes to bring up are the auto industry and the economy. We'll keep you posted.
UPDATE: Monday @ 8:01 a.m.
We're headed out of the hotel to the White House. We'll keep you posted on what's happening once we get through security.
UPDATE: Sunday @ 11:39 p.m.
While getting some dinner at a local restaurant (Carlye Grand Cafe), we set up our plan for the morning. We've been warned several times about the traffic situation --- it apparently takes close to an hour to get from our hotel near the Pentagon to the White House --- so we are getting an early start. We'll be out the door at 8 a.m. We technically don't need to be there until 10:30 or so, but who wants to take a chance at being late to talk with the president? We don't.
A photo album is now posted on our site with some of the photos we're taking. Look for more photos as the day progresses Monday. Here is a link: http://5.wews.com/sz0
The next update will come Monday morning.
UPDATE: Sunday @ 8:31 p.m.
We stopped by the ABC News office in Washington, which is several blocks from the White House. This is where ABC coordinates all of its coverage for politics and events in and around this part of the country. There, we tried to test some of our equipment prior to Monday's interview to make sure everything would work -- and as expected, we ran into some issues.
A camera from another station will be used to shoot the interview, so we will have to make that camera's tape format work with our Apple laptop. It turned out to be a bigger issue than we anticipated, but we're glad we will know what to expect going into the day Monday.
Much thanks to all of the nice folks at ABC NewsOne for helping us troubleshoot.
UPDATE: Sunday @ 8:11 p.m.
After getting situated in our hotel near the Pentagon, we headed over to Pennsylvania Avenue to shoot some preview stories in front of the White House.
On the way over, I got some tidbits from Leon about his history in covering sitting presidents -- and he had some interesting stories to tell. I'm going to write that up a little later.
Of course, we had to get a "team WEWS" photo in front of the White House (left to right: Mike Waterhouse, Leon Bibb, Mike Vielhaber)
UPDATE: Sunday @ 2:58 p.m.
We're now just outside of Washington D.C. and made contact wtih our colleagues at ABC News. They offered to help us out tonight with our shoot for the 11 p.m. and morning shows.
The fact that President Obama wants to talk with Leon about the auto industry is no surprise. On Friday, Obama visited the Chrysler plant in Toledo , sharing an optimistic message about the auto industry's turnaround.
"This industry is back on its feet, repaying its debts, gaining ground," Obama told Chrysler workers. "Because of you we can once again say the best cars in the world are built right here in the U.S. of A."
But the positive message came along at the same time a negative jobs report was released.
In its report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
said employers in May added the fewest jobs in eight months -- a meager 54,000 -- and the unemployment rate inched up to 9.1 percent.
Though, the president admitted Friday that the economy faces challenges ahead and "bumps on the road to recovery."
UPDATE: Sunday @ 10:45 a.m.
The White House said the president wants to talk about the auto industry -- something that greatly affects a lot of people in Northeast Ohio, whether they work there, have family members who work there or live in or around the areas where the plants are situated.
The interview will last only about 8 minutes, so Leon has to try to get as much in as he can during this brief period. I am sure Leon has spent the last 24 hours or so carefully crafting his list of questions to ask the commander in chief.
On Saturday, we asked our Facebook followers what else we should ask President Obama. We received dozens of comments.
"Where are the jobs and what will he do about 9.1% unemployment!!!" wrote Larry Visocky.
"Leon, I'd like to know how they're going to create jobs in America, when corporations continue to outsource, automate, and seek out even more cheaper labor in lieu of MORE profit. Seems like an equasion that does not work for the unemployed... in our country. (I'm 52,and have been unemployed for over 3 years, and have had ONLY 3 interviews for over 600 applications placed). I'm NOT making a 50K investment in education at my age with a mortgage to pay, and my first child on the way in December," wrote Andy Sefcik.
Certainly, the state of the economy and jobs is one of the most important topics for Northeast Ohio -- and likely most of the country. We hope to get some answers for you.
UPDATE: Sunday @ 10:07 a.m.
Here's the quick story on how this interview happened. Leon said he got a call at home Thursday night at about 8 p.m. from someone at the White House asking if he was interested in coming to Washington to interview the president. Of course, he said yes.
As Leon was telling me this story in the newsroom Friday morning, I asked if at any point he thought it was a prank call.
"No, I knew it was the real thing. They had me call them back at the White House," he explained.
Leon, a Cleveland native, also said he's interviewed one sitting president, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. Once we catch up with him, I plan to query his memory for more details about his past interviews.
UPDATE: Sunday @ 8 a.m.
Mike V. and I are on the road to Washington from Cleveland with all of the equipment. We will meet up with Leon later in the afternoon. Our plan once we get into DC is to get situated with our accommodations and go over our plan for Monday morning.
We will be recording a couple quick segments for the evening news and Good Morning Cleveland.