Pulled Press Pass


During one assignment, Tommy had arranged an opportunity to sit down and interview with General Norman Schwarzkopf. He was the United States Army general who served as Commander of U.S Forces during the Gulf War.

The event was the Safari Club International’s gathering the at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center. Tommy had asked Congressman Jim Gibbons’ office if it could be arranged for the Sparks Tribune to have an hour’s time with the retired hero of desert war.

Much to Tommy and Angela’s surprise the general said yes to the hour and forwarded the newspaper with a single press pass for the stage. She immediately decided that Tommy would be using the pass to speak to the retired army officer.

The night of the evening was one that was filled with excitement.

Tommy was wearing a dark gray suit with a bright red tie. He did not often dress in a suit but he felt that meeting the man that most of the United States felt was personally responsible for the nearly 100-hour victory in the Saudi desert in the early nineties was worth it.

Tommy stood nervously by the magnetic gate where he was instructed. There he would be escorted through to meet the general only after the security guards and secret service agents had verified he was Tommy George and was not carrying a weapon.

“Identification please?” a security guard with three yellow stripes on both of his upper shoulders asked.

Tommy handed him his driver’s license.

“Thank you, sir” he said as he handed the license bank. “May I have your press pass please?”

Tommy pulled the cord and pass from around his neck and handed it to the man.

“Thank you, sir,” he said. Then he added, “Unfortunately your press pass has been revoked.”

“Wha…!” Tommy nearly yelled.

The much larger man had his hand up in the halt position before Tommy could finish. “You work for the Sparks Tribune, correct?” the sergeant asked.

Tommy nodded that he did.

“You have a photographer named Debra that works for you?” the sergeant asked.

“Yes,” answered Tommy.

“She tried to get in without a pass and the Secret Service caught her,” he said. He continued, “She should consider herself lucky that they just threw her out and didn’t lock her up. I’m sorry you’re getting punished for it. But that’s how the Secret Service works.”

Tommy sighed heavily. Then he realized that there were to security guards waiting just behind him to escort him out of the area. He turned and went with them without a word.

By the time Tommy returned to work on Tuesday the convention was old news. The Reno Gazette-Journal had scooped the Sparks newspaper and Angela was in no mood to hear excuses.

“I want to know what happened and I want to know now!” she yelled.

Debra laid the blame at the feet of Tommy. She claimed that he had told her that it was alright for her to try and get photographs of General Schwarzkopf.

“He said that I should go ahead and try and get some pictures of the general if I wanted too,” Debra said.

“Yeah, I said that because you wouldn’t leave me alone after Angela said I would be going by myself,” Tommy said. “You can never leave well enough alone, always gotta be making yourself a part of the action even when you’re not needed,” he added.

“Obviously this isn’t getting us anywhere,” Angela said, “Tommy, what happened?”

“I wasn’t allowed to interview the general because Debra tried to get passed the Secret Service. They took away my press pass,” he answered.

“Is that what happened, Debra?” asked Angela.

“I did get too close to the barricades and was escorted from the property,” she said, “but I don’t know if that’s why he lost his press pass.”

“Here call this number Angela; it’s to the Secret Service. They’re the one who confiscated my press pass,” Tommy offered.

Angela disappeared into the publisher’s office for a few minutes. When she came back she looked at Lena and asked, “Debra, what do you think they said?”

Debra looked down and to her left indicating she knew that the service had backed Tommy’s side of the events. “I don’t know,” she replied.

Angela answered her own question for Debra. “They are just as Tommy said. You blew it for us. You had no real business being down there.”

Angela turned and walked out of the newsroom. The back door could be heard opening and closing. She wasn’t seen at work the remainder of the day.

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