tv Q A CSPAN May 11, 2015 6:00am-7:01am EDT
e first family in their most private moments. brian: kate anderson brower, author of "the residence" about the white house, who is married prince and what is the story about her time? kate: she is one of the most interesting characters. she was convicted of murder in the early 1970's. it was the carter's nanny. it is a fascinating story. she was convicted of murder. she was in georgia with her cousin and they got into a fight outside a bar. she ended up killing this guy. she says it was in self-defense. she went to prison and was on a work release program. she went to the governor's mansion and interviewed with rosalynn carter. carter loved her and said, would you come and meet our daughter amy? she said the minute she met amy, they clicked. they couldn't stop laughing.
they loved each other. their nanny was still in prison. when jimmy carter was elected president, she went back to prison for a period of time. they had to have the president be her parole officer in order to bring her to the white house. she came to the white house. she was cleared of the charges. i interviewed rosalynn carter for the book. she says it was a racially motivated -- mary says she didn't meet her lawyer until the hearing. there were strange things surrounding her conviction. she was at the white house. they love her. the staff at the white house were suspicious because she was brought in by the family. but i loved her story because you just couldn't make it up. the president was her parole officer, which is hard to believe.
brian: where is she now? kate: she lives in georgia and she babysits for hugo, so she is still a huge part of the carter family. i set up the interview with mary through the carters' assistance. they consider her one of her own. brian: how often over the years has a president and first lady brought in somebody from the outside, instead of the white house staff? kate: it happens fairly often. the bushes brought one of their personal maids. nancy ragan took one of the maids with her to california too. it does happen the other way. they grow so close that they bring them with them after they leave. largely, they rely on the 96 or so permanent staffers at the white house. brian: zephyr wright. kate: she was the johnsons' longtime cook. they brought her from texas.
ladybird has a great story about driving from texas to d.c. with zephyr, and they couldn't find a place to stay because they wouldn't allow african-americans in the state hotel. ladybird is talking to some motel clerk and the clerk says we work them, we don't sleep them. ladybird says, that is a nasty way to be, and storms off. zephyr talks about how compassionate ladybird was and how that trip across the country helped to inform president johnson and lead to the civil rights act. it was part of his decision to push for it, seeing their friend go through this. brian: what was her relationship with the president? kate: it was very close. the president would say things to her like, they don't appreciate what i'm trying to do. your people don't understand
what i'm trying to do. he felt like martin luther king and these other activists weren't grateful enough, always pushing for more, never enough. she was a sounding board for him. but she stood up to him. there's a scene in the book where he got angry at her for leaving the lights on. she stood up to him because he was always yelling at people about leaving lights on and trying to save electricity. she's one of the few people who could stand up to him. brian: your book went right to the bestseller list. it is called "the residence." we just showed the cover of it with the white gloves. whose idea was it for this cover, and this title, and why do you think this shot to the top of the bestsellers list? kate: the cover, i give harpercollins credit for that. it is a beautiful cover. i think it is gorgeous. i think it shot to the top of
the "new york times" best because it is something people can relate to. i'm seeking to show the presidents and first ladies as human beings. we know so little about them. any shred of personal information we get told from a unique vantage point, so it is unique, and there's a lot of interest with "downtown aby," and "the help" and this culture that you never see. i think the book shed light on what goes on at the white house. the title, they call it the residence, and i thought that was a great, powerful title. brian: you worked in the white house as a reporter for what organization and how long? kate: i worked for bloomberg news for four years during obama's first term. i traveled around the world and it was a wonderful experience.
before that i was at fox as a producer and cbs as a producer. al hunt gave me my chance at bloomberg to go to the white house. but i was in tv first. i wanted to switch to print. bloomberg is a powerhouse of the wire service. it was incredible. the greatest story was under my nose the whole time, these people who you never see. brian: you say you did 100 interviews with people who worked in the white house? kate: more than 50 former resident staffers and one current resident staffer. and 50 plus advisors. more than 100 people for the book. including people like president obama's body man, and katie johnson, who had a unique view of these people and how they served the presidency.
brian: how often did somebody say to you, you can't write this? kate: only one person said, you are going to have a lot of trouble. it was very difficult to get them to talk. it took two years, a lot of time and energy. this was my full-time job. but there is one woman christine limerick, the head housekeeper. she was the linchpin for me. once she agreed to talk to me, and i went to her house in delaware, she opened a lot of doors for me. i think she put in a good word for me. she gave me phone numbers. brian: let's show some video of something we used when we did a special on the white house to give people an idea of what it looks like.
[video clip] >> inside the central mansion, there are 130 rooms with a floor plan that unites the ground, state, and second floors, with a centrally located oval-shaped room. on the ground floor, there is a diplomatic reception room, with the library and china rooms complementing it on each side. next is the state floor, anchored by the blue room in the center, with the state dining room at one end, the east room at the other, and the red and green rooms off to either side. on the second floor private residence, the yellow over room is the central space bordered by the treaty room, lincoln bedroom, and the queens room to the east. and presidential bedrooms and
studies, the west sitting all, -- the west sitting all -- hall and the families private dining room to the west. brian: to the best of my knowledge, we've never seen any photos of the obamas' private quarters. kate: they are so intensely private. they have two young daughters. they are very protective of that space. understandably i think. but i didn't realize there is this room on the third floor called the solarium. it is a really cool family room. melia and sasha obama have their sleepovers there. it is where president reagan recuperated after the assassination attempt. there are layers of history in each of these rooms. brian: did anybody let you go to rooms like the solarium? kate: i didn't get any cooperation from the obama white house.
the only people who would talk to me were people i knew from having covered it. the closest i got was a lunch with michelle obama in the old family dining room. that made me think about doing this book. this butler was coming in and out of the room and serving her. it was a small luncheon with her. it made me think of this other side of the white house. but i never got into the inner sanctum myself. i'm even more intrigue. d. i would love to go there. these resident staffers told me some wonderful things. i can visualize it. brian: who are the thick lens? kate: they are an incredible family. nine members of the family have worked at the white house. i interviewed james jeffries the only current part-time butler who i didn't get to interview. he works every week at the white house. nine members of his family worked there.
his uncles were maitre de;s, which is like the head butler. they brought him in when he was 17 years old in 1959 during the eisenhower administration. he is still working there. he describes how he used to work in the kitchen. they kept giving him ice cream to eat. because he was such a skinny little guy. it is incredible that he remembers what the eisenhower's were like. there's this dying breed of person who remember that. that's what i wanted to do, to pay tribute to these people. i've gotten some great feedback. they are very happy with it. six of them have passed away in the past two years. one of them passed away. his daughter wrote me a note saying, thank you for honoring my father. she included a $75 check saying, have lunch on me. these are the kind of people they are, very generous, sweet and kind.
having written a book, you usually don't hear back from people saying thank you. it is usually the opposite. brian: why are so many of the butler's african americans? are there any white butler's today? kate: it has changed. since the clinton administration, it changed a little bit. historically, it was an african-american job. it was a job they were really proud of. they formed private butler's incorporated, a group of butler's who would help each other get jobs. at georgetown dinner parties. one of the butler's passed away recently. he told me that the women, these ambassadors' wives, would introduce him as mr. westerly, who works at the white house. this was something they were very proud of. it was a good paying job for a lot of the staff. they did very well because they
made money outside the white house. i think it is just a tradition. they would bring in their relatives. one person works there and they bring in their brother, then they bring in their cousin. it is about trust. brian: who is freddie mayfield? kate: freddie mayfield was a doorman. he was there during the reagan administration. people loved him. one of the ushers told me that he was told he needed bypass surgery, and he never got it because he kept saying, i want to be here for the president. i'm going to wait for his next trip. he passed away on his way to work. he had a heart attack. i talked to nancy reagan through her assistant, and i said, can you tell me if mrs. reagan remembers freddie mayfield? i got an immediate response from nancy, she remembers exactly how
sad it was, how empty and lonely it was when he wasn't there anymore, because she saw him every morning in the elevator. she still remembered that. she remembered the details. she was at his funeral, and repeated a little of what others had told me. it was moving to see the first lady at his funeral. brian: what is the story about nelson pierce and richard nixon in seattle? kate: nelson pierce was born in seattle and he heard the nixons were traveling out there, so he asked if he could go on this trip. he tells this beautiful story about being on air force one. he could view all these beautiful mountain ranges where he grew up. he said his eyes filled with tears. he was just so moved by that.
afterwards, he went up to mrs. nixon and thanked her, and she said, i wanted to see the mountains too. it was a sweet thing to do. the nixons came across, from my reporting, as more sympathetic than you would think to the staff. brian: who came across as less sympathetic to the staff? kate: i think the clintons because they were just dealing with so much at the time. they also weren't used to having staff. that is a key difference with the bushes, the reagans, versus the clintons and the obama's. they didn't know exactly how to handle it. they wouldn't tell them when they were eating, so suddenly there would be a panic in the kitchen. the bushes would say, two for dinner at 6:00. it was very regimented. they lived their lives this way. they were very patrician.
these people grew up in this luxurious environment. they treated the staff very well, with a lot of respect. brian: i know you've been asked a lot about this, where bill clinton, or hillary clinton -- i think gary eldredge was the first to report it. there is a story about the book being thrown. you say that clinton had stitches? kate: that is what a staffer told me. he had to get stitches, and another staffer confirmed this for me. he had stitches. they believe it was a book thrown. nobody saw the actual book being thrown. the way i described it was, they found blood on their bed. the president says he walked into the bathroom door in the middle of the night. the staff thought that she must have clocked him with a book.
i have it on the record from a florist who says he heard them yelling at each other in the west wing hall when he was going to switch out the flowers and he heard a heavy object being thrown. it feeds into the idea that it was a tumble to us time. -- it was a tumultuous time there. i think it is understandable. there was a lot going on during their entire eight years. not just during lewinsky, but before then. i think it was a tough time for the staffers. brian: were you the first to report the stitch? kate: i hadn't seen anything on it. brian: how did they treat you, the clintons, when you wanted to write this book? kate: i asked them for a letter that was read at the funeral of one of these beloved butler's named james ramsey. when he passed away, laura bush went to his funeral. the clintons and the obama's
both had letters they sent. the clintons gave me the letter that was read. that's the closest i got. brian: here's president obama talking about the staff in a brief interview. >> mr. president, what is it like to live in the white house? president obama: it is an extraordinary experience. the thing that michelle and i and the girls appreciate most is the staff, which are so diligent, constantly thinking about how to make the first family comfortable. it was to some degree an artificial environment. they have become great friends. >> i think the white house staff has figured out how to accommodate families and make them feel as normal as possible, even though there are dozens of people around all the time. you begin to see them as family.
that's the beauty of this place. it is really the staff who make it home for so many different families over the years. brian: what has it meant to the people that work there that this is the first african-american couple to the president and first lady? kate: one butler told me he would keep working there as long as his legs let him stand. their secretary said on inauguration day, she could look at these older gentleman and see the pride. the head of operations told me i don't care if it is a black man, white woman, it doesn't matter to me. i'm going to do the job to 100% of my best ability. they stick with that too. like the president said, they make the house comfortable for the first family regardless of color.
but they never thought they would see this day, they told me. it was an incredible moment for them. brian: here's a clip from lady bird johnson's tour of the white house in 1968. it shows the family in the family dining room. is this where you had your lunch with mrs. obama? you said it was intimate. kate: there were about 10 of us, 10 female reporters, who covered the first lady. it was to celebrate the anniversary of her "let's move" campaign. brian: let's watch the johnson family. [video clip] >> having the entire family together for lunch is a joy, but also lindens hours vary with his -- but also a rarity.
lyndon's hours vary with his work and the girls are just as unpredictable. but once in a while, everyone's activities coincide and we gather in the family dining room. [indiscernible] >> he looks so much like his daddy. [indiscernible] brian: the little fellow there is patrick lyndon nugent. we saw a brief clip of jean allen. tell us about jean allen. kate: i love this video. he was a butler who the movie "the butler" was loosely based on. charles tells a great story
about how he was in the infantry in vietnam. he said, please ask president johnson, is there anything he can do to get me out of this? i will be in the air force anything else. eugene allen said, if this was president kennedy or anyone else, maybe i could help you but i don't have the relationship with him. they are not supposed to ask for favors. that is a big ask. charles told me that it was just heartbreaking for him. he really wanted his father to push. eugene allen was the penultimate butler. he never asked for favors. he was very diligent. people say that he was not the one who asked for a raise for the black staff. i've been told that that was not something he would do.
he respected the institution of the presidency. the way the staff was paid, a lot of the african-american staff were not paid as well as the white staff, because the white staff worked as plumbers and in different positions. they weren't butler's. there was an uprising led by bill hamilton, the storeroom manager. in the late the movie portrays 1960's. it as something eugene allen did. he was really beloved, but he never stepped out of bounds. brian: what is the difference between eugene allen and skip alan? kate: skip alan is an usher. he's younger than eugene. he worked there for decades and decades. he is a white usher. as an usher, he is more of in a management position. he was in charge of the housekeeping shop and the
curator's shop. they are in a completely different position. they don't see the residents as much as the butler's. the butler's have the real intimate work. there are six butler's who rotate on the floor and see everything. those are the hardest to talk to, because they are very careful about what they say. brian: three of your presidents, how do you ask this, show up on occasion nude. those three would be johnson kennedy, and reagan. would you tell a story about each one? kate: johnson was probably the strangest character in the white house. he would often conduct business on the toilet. he was obsessed with the shower and the water pressure. i had seen that reported before. i interviewed the head plumber's widow and she said her husband had a nervous breakdown about
the shower and was hospitalized for several days. one scene in the book, the president is trying out the shower, having other people try out the shower, and they would come out beet red because it was so hot and the pressure was so intense. brian: that shower was, i've never heard of a shower like it. explain what he wanted in the shower. he had one like this in his home? kate: the general manager of the residence, johnson took him aside a couple days after kennedy was killed, and was furious. right after johnson moved in. he said, if you can't ask this -- fix this shower, i'm going to have to move back to the elms, which was his house in d.c. he was obsessed. he had six different nozzles spraying all parts of his body.
he wanted to go from cold to hot. he didn't want it warm. he had a bunch of mirrors installed on the ceiling. when the head plumber would try it out, he would come out beet red, his veins popping out. it was not a comfortable thing. president nixon took one look at it and said -- when he came in he said, get rid of this. all of the work they had done was for nothing. at the very end, before johnson left office, he was using the bathroom and he asked the head plumber to come in. he said, i want you to know that this show were has been my -- this shower has been my delight. thank you. that meant the world to the head plumber because he worked so hard to try to please him. they had five different replacement showers. they rerouted the water tanks to make this happen. everybody was involved in this from the chief usher on down.
it was all-consuming for those five plus years he was there. brian: you say that he had no compunction just to show up nude and walk around the workers and everybody? kate: he was very uncouth. he would talk to people -- johnson was kind of, he would swear a lot, he would wander the hallways of the residence, he would go to the shops in the basement and stick his head in. if he found a light was on when it wasn't supposed to be, he would be furious. the head electrician described a scene where johnson found a carpenter working late at night and he didn't realize the carpenter was still working at midnight. he was there with a secret service agent. johnson turned off the light. the carpenter said, what the heck is going on, and came out and found the president standing there. the president said, i'm sorry, i didn't realize you were still there. he was very intense.
i think it was either lucy or linda, they said because he was their teacher before he got into politics, he never stopped grading people. he would grade them on how they did when they were out campaigning. i'm so interested in ladybird. one thing she said, she said -- she took the chief usher aside and said, the president comes first, my daughter comes second, and i take what is left over. she really lived that way. brian: when did the butler's or the maids see a nude woman running around the white house living quarters and it wasn't anybody connected to the family? kate: that was during the kennedy administration. the head electrician and the dog keeper at the time saw some really strange things going on
in the second and third floors. they technically weren't supposed to wander up there when mrs. kennedy was out of town. she was often going down to the farm in virginia. during the weekend, she didn't like staying at the white house. the president wanted the staff gone. he would ask for food to be put aside, and a picture of daiquiris him. his guests said he would swim, sometimes nude, with the secretaries. one staffer told me that they found dave powers, a top adviser to president kennedy, swimming in the pool with one of the secretaries, nake d. that just goes to show that they cap the roosevelt paralysis
secret and they would real limit to the state dining room and make sure he was seated to no one else would know. everyone else would come in and they would hide the wheelchair. host: the presidency wrote about in this book, when did you start? kate: president kennedy. brian: why did you start their? kate: i want to do have 10 administrations. there's so much ground to cover. it is easier to talk to people who have actually been -- people who were alive and could talk about what the kennedys were like. one of these butlers i interviewed remembers jackie kennedy, she would ask for different chairs to be put in different places and it was kind of that it would kind of annoyed people -- it would kind of annoyed people. he said he was younger and was excited to be there. everyone would scurry and run away but he was always there to do whatever she wanted. very sweet stories that i think
people remember. brian: didn't you say she would get up in the night and move furniture and not tell people where she would move them to? kate: the clintons did that a lot. 2:00 in the morning moving furniture because they could not sleep. it was a pain because he was in charge of the curator staff and they were very upset by this because all of the furniture is catalogued and is supposed to be -- they need to know where it is. brian:kate: i love the reagan stories because he is what you see is what you get. i was happy to see that my thoughts about him were proven to be true. you saw him as someone who would be affable on a personal level regardless of politics. he would chat up the staff and there is one scene where he was -- they made walked in on him and he was sitting in their
bedroom and he was naked reading the newspaper spread out in front of him. she was so embarrassed. later in the hallway he said who was that guy. brian: this is richard nixon on his final day in the white house. we do this because of the staff. [video clip] [applause] >> i just met with the members of the white house staff, those that serve here in the white house. day in and day out. i asked them to do what i ask all of you to do to the extent that you can and are requested to do so. to serve our next president as you have served me and previous presidents because many of you have been here for many years with devotion and dedication. this house, i was thinking of it
as we walked down this hall. i was comparing it to some of the great houses of the world i been in. this is not the biggest house. even smaller countries are much bigger. this is not the finest house. many in europe particularly and in china asia, have paintings of great value. things we just don't have here. and probably will never have until we are 1000 years old or older. this is the best of house. what was the reaction of the staff when he left? kate: they were very heartbroken for him because some of them said it was harder than jfk's assassination. watching nixon sink into a
depression. they said you could tell his body language was different. the head of electrician told me nation -- nixon's schedule used to be like clockwork. when watergate kept ragging on, he was showing signs of depression. he would role in later. i love that you showed that video because there was a painter who painted that podium. his name is cletus clark and he passed away a few months ago. he told me a story about how he was called in to paint the podium before president nixon spoke and he was in his white uniform and he did not -- it was so rushed he was still painting right before the president came out and he had to tell the secret service stages still wet. he was the only resident staffer in the room at the time and he just stood over to the side with his paint bucket, totally worried he was going to stand out because they never want to
stand out. when they see a camera, they duck. one usher told me he remembers eating caught on camera and being mortified. -- being caught on camera and being mortified. i spent a lot of time trying to find cletus in the audience by could not find him. brian: how much to the butlers make? kate: the head butler could make a significant amount of money. brian: over $100,000? kate: for the head butler. the ranges are $30,000 for people who are newer, maybe beginning maids and things like that. hundred thousand dollars for the head chefs. brian: are they civil servants? kate: they work at the pleasure of the president but they can be fired much more easily than someone who is officially -- the president can fire you for any
reason. brian: how many people who have worked in the white house as just resident workers over the years have either written books or articles revealing some of the things they saw? kate: i would say half a dozen or so. a few of the people i interviewed told me they are working on their own books. we will see. it is interesting that no one told me that they had -- that there was anything that they had to sign. one person had to promise they would not write their own memoir for two years area and -- for two years. . brian: at what moment did you interview someone and say, wow i just picked up something unique? kate: it happened all the time. i felt they did not know what they were sitting on. when i talked to bill kleiber about his long walk he took with
president nixon after nixon announced his resignation. bill told me he was one of the handful of people in the over office desk in the oval office. he had to be there for technical reasons. he was walking down the west colony to go back to his office in the basement of the white house and he heard footsteps behind him and it was the president walking by himself. bill stepped to the side so the president could get ahead of him and the president said, walk with me. ill turned to him and said you did the best you could do in the president said, i wish more people felt that way. i think that is such a poignant moment. when bill told me that, is very moving. brian: you are is gary walters who was an usher. -- here is gary walters who was an usher. [video clip] >> president george herbert walker bush.
41, as he is known by some people. the nicest person that has probably ever lived in the white house. when president bush was in japan on a visit toward the end of his administration, he got sick. eating the gentleman that he was he did not want to call off the meal. he got really sick during the occasion. when he came back to the white house, there was a monumental trip that included other countries. i asked the resident staff to join me in the diplomatic reception room and i got surgical masks and put on everybody when he was coming back in. he stopped by to say something to the press and barbara bush walked into the south portico. she looked around the room and saw us all standing there with surgical masks on and she broke up laughing. she said george bush is going to
fire you all. and she turned to me and said especially you. the president walked in from outside and just broke up and proceeded to shake hands with everybody and signed their. brian: did gary walters ever write a book? kate: i don't think he ever will. brian: did you talk to him about the good and the bad? kate: he is very guarded. he would not say anything negative about anybody but i do believe what he is saying. anybody says it about bush 41. the call an old man push affectionately. he would play horseshoes with the staff. one staffer told me a sweet story about how the day his father passed away, it was thanks giving day and he got a phone call at home and it was the operator at camp david saying can you hold for the president. the president expressed condolences. very meaningful things that they did like that.
barbara bush, interviewed her and she said when they left the white house that the president was too choked up with a motion to say goodbye to the staff. -- choked up with emotion to say goodbye to the staff. brian: the other side of a george herbert walker bush? kate: i think the clintons -- it was very chaotic and i think it troubled the staff that they did not know what was expected of them. things like moving the furniture, changing the phone lines. they used to have calls that would have to be transferred by an operator. the clintons did not trust the staff fully. they felt like people could listen in on phone calls. even gary walters -- he truly loves and respects these people, says that it was a difficult transition from the bushes to the clintons.
brian: tears gary walters talking about the impeachment time inside the white house. -- here is gary walters talking about the impeachment time inside the white house. [video clip] >> what about the time surrounding the impeachment? >> the resident staff takes it lead from the first family. when things are not going well. when families have lost their parents. mrs. clinton did. the president did. times like that. it is very solemn. we just do our job and try and make things as mundane as possible. whether we are slammed here or there, possibly. we just carry on. brian: how much of this stuff that you wrote about the clintons made this a bestseller?
kate: the fact that she is running, people are curious about her. what they are really like. i think that the book shows her as a multifaceted person, like everyone is. not only were there difficult times but there were sweet stories. there is a story about how the president was upset he did not get to decorate a christmas tree . he was looking forward to doing this with chelsea. by accident, the head housekeeper told me wires were crossed and she accidentally put up all the ornaments. the president was livid when he saw that the tree was decorated. i think that is a sweet story because it is something he wanted to do with his daughter. the housekeeper went to hillary clinton and said i am really worried about this. hillary clinton said, sometimes good deeds don't go over well in this house or something like
that and was commiserating with her. a lot of scenes where hillary clinton is commiserating with the help and women on the staff who she respected and treated well. the head housekeeper in particular loved working for hillary clinton. brian: gerald ford. what is the story about susan ford leaving the white house unescorted? kate: she snuck away. she felt like -- she took advantage of this. it was at their that a secret service officer dared her to do it. she snuck away and she and her friend ended up in a parking lot dragging beer. they got back -- talking a lot drink in beer. she rushed back to the white house because she said she had a hole in oats concert to go to. president ford was livid and so angry with her that night. she was one of the only first daughters to have a secret service protection, even when he was vice president because of
threats. he was really concerned for her. brian: how did she actually leave the white house? kate: i am trying to remember that scene in the book. her mom was driving and the gates were open so the staff could not close the gates in time and there was a car and she just jumped in. back then, they just pulled cars around on the south lawn. she went off and met her friends. it is like a scene from a movie. steve foretells tells a great story about how he used apart his beat up jeep on the same driveway and every time he would look out the window and see it was not there humans later because it was not appropriate to have beat up car on the driveway of the white house. brian: who did you want to talk to that said no? kate: bill clinton, hillary clinton much else he clinton. i wanted to talk to -- hillary
clinton, chelsea clinton. the clintons would have been great to talk to. brian: did they give you a reason? kate: no. brian: how many times did you ask them? kate: probably three or four times. once you get the definitive no, there is no point in going back at it. i was happy to talk with barbara bush, roselyn carter and laura bush. i wanted to show that this book is not partisan. it was important to get ms. carter on board to bank. o. i set out to do an oral history from these resident staffers. brian: where did you grow up? kate: connecticut.
washington, connecticut. a small town near litchfield. i went to school in new york. brian: why did you get interested in journalism? kate: my father is a writer. he writes biographies. i was always fascinated by his work. he has written a bunch of books. it took me two years to do this one. brian: what is his name? kate: christopher anderson. i grew up thinking it was so fascinating and i always loved to ask people questions and find out about other people. brian: what you do after you graduated from barnard? kate: i worked at cbs on the news desk for the early show and then i went to fox in new york. brian: why did you do that? kate: i love politics and i wanted to change. mcgurk can feel like a lot. -- new york can feel like a lot.
brian: what was the difference between cbs news organization and the fox news organization? kate: i thought that -- because fox is cable i had more ability to do things. cbs was right out of graduate school. i oxford for a year and i came back so i was doing things like putting people plus mail in slots -- people's mail in slots. at fox it was very fast-paced. brian: what did you do at oxford? kate: i majored in american history at oxford. brian: was this a special or did you decide to go there? kate: i just decided to go there. i spent junior year abroad. i went back for a year. it was an incredible experience. i wrote a thesis about margaret thatcher and ronald reagan
and their relationship. i would get stopped at customs why are you coming here to study american history? brian: you say that nbc news man pete williams took the picture of you in this book. how did that happen? kate: my husband works at msnbc and the two of them are friends. i thought, i don't think he has the time to take my photo. he did. he came over with all these lights. i think he did a great job. a lot of fun. brian: you have two children. charlotte and graham. kate: charlotte is one and graham is to. wo. i got the sweetest note from the obamas because one of the resident staffers promised me that they would get me a note from the white house. i thought that was sweet of them to say congratulations on the
birth of your daughter. it shows how these resident staffers always follow through. when i called him up to thank him, he said i'm sorry i did not get it to you sooner. brian: here is michelle obama talking about prior -- talking about private residences. let's watch this and get your reaction. [video clip] ♪ >> i tell people that it feels like you are living in this beautiful hotel and the ground
floor is the lobby. when you step out into it you are going to interact with a range of people. maybe you see some staff members or a group of tourists. you feel like greeting them. you get into the elevator and go into your personal space and it feels like you are the only people living here. brian: that is back in 2009. we have not seen their private quarters but how much of their own furniture to the president's and first ladies ring into the white house? kate: it depends on who it is. laura bush told me she barely brought anything with her because she had seen her mother-in-law used so much furniture from a facility in maryland. it is top-secret. they don't let journalists in their. i interviewed several curators who told me they catalog all the furniture. you get to choose from this
incredible -- you can take furniture that was there during mattison and adams -- during matdison and adams. brian: can the first family do anything they want to with the furniture? kate: not with the state floor. president obama has done a lot with the oval office. they can change the colors and carpet and stuff. brian: here is another usher admiral stephen were sean. let's watch 50 seconds of him. [video clip] >> are you going to serve the president for his toast? >> every day is different. i manage the operations of executive residence. i do that through 95 terrific
people that work here. that includes the executive c hef, the ushers, the electricians, the carpenters, but curators -- the curators and a number of other folks. with that group of 95 folks plus another couple hundred extra contract people, our job is to put the best face on the white house. brian: what did you see? kate: i saw a butler who i really got to know. brian: the german with white hair? -- the gentleman with the white hair? kate: he was one of the most beloved butlers. he passed away last year. he had a small apartment that was crammed with incredible things. you walk into this modest apartment in the suburbs of d.c.
and on the walls are pictures of james with nelson mandela. james with bill clinton. autographed photos from president obama saying thank you for being such a good friend. he was very fun loving and sweet. it is sad to see it because i kept asking him to go out to lunch after that first meeting because i knew he had some amazing things to tell and he kept telling me, someday i promise. it turned out the whole time he was really sick and he at cancer. i did not realize. it did not seem when you talked to him. he seemed ok. a lot of these people who have passed away will carry incredible secrets and stories to their grave. this book tells a lot of those stories but it is the tip of the iceberg with a lot of them. brian: how do they get the job in the first place? kate: usually through friends.
people know somebody. is what a lot of them are related. these are people -- these are not jobs that are advertised. in rare cases where they bring people in from the outside there are extensive security checks in clearances. tony savoy, the head of operations, told me the story about someone who applied for a job in the clinton administration and they found out he had been charged with rape. they had chelsea clinton in the white house. you obviously cannot have someone with a serious criminal record at the white house. even a minor criminal record. james would always tell me, i have a clean record. no drunk driving arrests nothing. brian: except for someone named mary prince. kate: she is the one exception. brian: the president gave her a pardon? kate: roselyn carter cleared
her. she was cleared eventually. it was overturned. it was racially motivated they say. mary told me she -- that it was absolutely out of self-defense. she did not deny killing him but it was out of self-defense. it went away. brian: one last area. i'm going to give you a quote and background. walter and i did not get along because i knew he could not cook. kate: that is the executive pastry chef at the white house. a funny guy from france. he and walter, the executive chef hated each other. it was almost comical to kind of fireworks that were going on in the kitchen. they had to have separate pastry
kitchens because the two of them cap clashing in this small space. one of the chefs said he thought there would be blood on the floor. it got so bad the executive chef with simply walk over to roland, hand him the menu and roland decide what he would make to accompany it. they really clashed so much. personalities are so different. brian: they both admit not to liking each other? kate: absolutely. brian: where are they today? kate: they both have written books about their time at the white house. roland does a lot of speaking and so does walter. walter is younger. walter is more like a ceo businessman. roland is a creative chef type of person. brian: miss rogers, the social secretary for the obamas. why did she leave? kate: she left because of the
gatecrashers incident. she did some very glamorous photo shoots i think lou back in a bad way for her. -- blue back for her in a bad way. one butler name smiley who passed away. she said she read how sad that was. they invited his family to the white house. i think everybody who spoke with me did so because they wanted to pay tribute to these people. does no one has ever asked about them really. i'm hopefully going to be working on a new book that is white house related. brian: when do you make that decision? what is the timeframe? kate: hopefully it will come out in another two years. i want to take the time to research and write it properly. brian: this book is called "the residence." our guest has been kate andersen
brower. thank you very much. >> for free transcripts or to give your comments about this program, visit us at q and a.org. programs are also available at c-span podcasts. >> next, your calls and comments on "washington journal." at 3:00 p.m., the atlantic council hosts a discussion on how lower oil prices have affected the process of i draw it fracturing. -- hydraulic fracturing. >> the new congressional directory is a guide to the 114th congress with color photos
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cost of resources needed to suppress forest fighters -- forest fires in the united states. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. ♪ host: it is monday, may 11 2015. the senate returns this afternoon. house back from its district work period. president will host leaders of six arab nations at camp david in the maryland mountains to talk about iran and defense issues in the middle east. good morning and welcome to "washington journal." will focus on the issue of homegrown terrorism in the wake of the shooting in texas at the mohammed cartoon contest. the issue came before congress last week at a hearing looking at social media.