Broadcast networks interrupted their daytime programs and cable news networks went wall-to-wall today when word broke via Twitter that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson had resigned. Her resignation came one day after a blistering, televised Q&A with members of Congress over the Secret Service’s epic fail of September 19 when a guy with a knife got into the White House, which was followed almost immediately by a breaking news report that a guy with a gun, and a criminal record, had gotten into an elevator with President Obama a few days earlier at the Centers for Disease Control.
Cable news viewers got a front-row seat at today’s White House press briefing when Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that the elevator breach of security had been kept from the White House until just before the press reported it. “I can tell you the White House first learned of that incident yesterday afternoon, shortly before it was publicly reported by a news organization,” Earnest said dramatically.
Short-lived reality TV star Michaele Salahi, and more legitimate feature film star Bradley Cooper, came up in the cable news harrumphing that followed Earnest’s dramatic revelation. Nearly five years ago, Salahi and her then-husband Tareq became a big morning infotainment show “get” after they crashed a White House state dinner. The Secret Service apologized back then for lax procedures that allowed the couple to outsmart two checkpoints — paving the way for Michaele to be cast on Bravo’s The Real Housewives Of D.C.
More recently, the Secret Service got dinged — by Ron Kessler in his book The First Family Detail and this afternoon on CNN and elsewhere — when it allowed Cooper and his SUV into the secure area where Secret Service cars were allowed at the Washington D.C. Hilton, where the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was being held. In cable-news interviews today, Kessler said that kind of waiving of protocol where the POTUS is involved has an impact on Secret Service agents. Talking heads on various cable news shows this afternoon seemed to agree that Joseph Clancy, who’s been named acting director of the Secret Service, is going to crack down in a big way on security during presidential outings. Obama is coming to LA on October 9 for a DNC fundraiser at Gwyneth Paltrow’s house.
On a related note, Joseph Clancy, director of corporate security at NBCUniversal parent Comcast, was named as acting director of the Secret Service today. He served led the agency’s presidential protection division until 2011, when he retired to join Comcast. In his former Secret Service job, Clancy’s team conducted major investigations at the agency’s New York field office.