Reporter’s Notebook: Election Day Washington DC Nov. 3, 2020
A couple of weeks ago I went down to Washington DC to report on the 2020 election. I arrived as millions were casting votes on November 3rd, 2020 and stayed until well after polls closed. It was my first time going to DC as a reporter.
It wasn’t what I expected it to be.
It was a great experience to report from the White House, but, it was actually pretty quiet there and I much preferred to break free and be with the people in the streets. I pretty much wanted to get out the second I got in. Scratch that. I wanted to leave while I was clearing security.
I could feel the confinement upon my way in. All the reporters were under green tents with their crews and the friendlier reporters were the foreign media. I met some lovely Italians and some Venezuelans. I couldn’t help but charlar. Pero like, I was there to report for my own brand, get sound for the Jerusalem Post live reports I did for their Facebook page and make connections. I wanted to speak with some of the other reporters, but many of them gave me that big ear-to-ear smile that says “I’m going to be so fake nice to you that you’ll leave.” I know that one well. I just pretended that I didn’t. It’s fun for me.
I literally walked up to a slew of individuals and said “Hi my name is Shanna. I wanted to introduce myself to you.” Then I smiled real big. I had a few nice conversations. My favorite was breaking in the older gentleman who was the White House photographer for NBC. He at first was hesitant to talk with me. I got him talking after I asked him if he worked for CNN and he said “No. I used to.” I told him I met Wolf Blitzer at a pool in Tel Aviv years ago and then the photographer lit up. Turns out, he worked with Wolf Blitzer at CNN for more than 10 years. Traveled with him around the world and saw him come in as an amateur and come out proving everyone wrong. (They thought a print journalist could never be so charismatic on camera). He took my card and told me to keep pushing forward. He also told me that he resents that the Trump administration staff do not wear masks in the James S. Brady Press room at the White House. Reporter note: the press room is way smaller than it seems like on video! And he says he feels the staffers don’t respect their elders, since they repeatedly put him in a compromising situation by breathing their potential COVID-19 all over him and the other press. He’s not a young man.
After doing a live hit, I got out of there pretty quick. I hit the streets and started stopping people to ask them questions. One guy even recognized me from my podcast!! He asked me if I was Shanna Fuld, from Israel. I said yes proudly.
I learned a lot about the culture of DC and the people who live there. It’s a very blue, democratic, hopeful place. Everyone I met out in the streets were friendly. It’s something I am not used to in NYC!
I spoke with some people on the streets about how they were feeling about the election and if they knew anything about Middle Eastern politics. Many said they came downtown to see if stores had boarded themselves up in anticipation of violent riots.
Later on in the evening I headed out to cover some demonstrations. I followed a strong anti-establishment, anti-police protest for a while. There were hundreds of people dressed in black walking with black umbrellas. The demonstration filtered out into what is now called the Black Lives Matter plaza. My heart was racing as I reported live — from my cell phone. Other news crews had big equipment, and I couldn’t help but think I was doing the same thing, but with easier parts. One woman approached me while I was recording and told me to put my phone away because it wasn’t safe for me to be filming. It scared me enough to close it down temporarily, but I started another live just minutes later.
Once at the Black Lives Matter plaza, I tried to speak with a group of people dancing in a circle. But when I told them I was there on behalf of the Israel Daily News Podcast, they mocked me and said they wouldn’t speak with me. The group moved away from me as if I was sick. The woman I first approached turned around to the crew and asked anyone if they wanted to speak with the Israel reporter. They rolled their eyes at me and laughed. I stood there energetically. I had a smile on. I was not going to shrivel away. One man asked me if I cover the occupation. I told him I cover all angles of news coming out of Israel and that I don’t miss anything. He looked at me for while, and the said he didn’t want to comment.
I moved on and met some friendly young men who told us how they feel about the election and one even had a little knowledge of the changes we have seen in the Middle East region under president Donald Trump. He was probably the only young pro-Trump black man to be found for miles. Listen to him really get into his position here.
Anyway. My time in DC was brief. I didn’t stay past Wednesday afternoon and while the other reporters told me they would be at the White House until their executive producers and assignment editors gave them clearance to go home, I got on the train and slept in my own bed that night. I am not sure if those reporters for those big networks ever left the small, suffocating grassy area of the White House or if the pretty news anchor I wanted to connect with ever stopped doing her fake smile.