When I began my podcast, First Class Fatherhood in 2018, I decided to set an impossible goal; to interview the President of the United States of America. In two years I have interviewed over 400 dads from all walks of life with the intention of changing the narrative on Fatherhood and Family Life. We have a fatherless crisis in America. Too many kids are growing up without a father in the home and the results have been devastating on our society. Young men seem to think their happiness will come from material things and not by starting a family. My plan was to interview men who have accomplished great things in life yet testify that their greatest sense of fulfillment was achieved through fatherhood.
Through persistence, imagination, prayer and faith I have interviewed some incredible dads on my show including Tom Brady, Deion Sanders, Tony Hawk, Jocko Willink, Dana White, Al Roker and so many others. I was invited to two Super Bowl Media Days, was interviewed live on Fox and Friends, hit #1 on Apple’s Podcast Charts for Kids & Family, was invited to the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention and was granted White House Press clearance which brought me closer to my impossible goal.
I managed to score interviews with dads who are close to the President. His son Eric Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, America’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Fox News Host Sean Hannity all joined me on First Class Fatherhood. My first visit to the White House was in July of 2019. I had no idea what to expect as I passed through the Secret Service checkpoint and walked towards the briefing room. I received the same funny looks from the White House press correspondents as I did from the reporters at the Super Bowl. When they asked who I was with and I told them I host a podcast called First Class Fatherhood they tried hard to not to laugh. Every so often when they didn’t know I was within earshot I could hear them chuckling and joking about “The Podcaster.” It was all ok with me. They were all there working for someone else, taking orders and doing as they were as they were told. I was there on my own, a railroad mechanic who started a podcast to bring a positive change in the world.
That first trip was quite an experience for me. My goal was to speak with the Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham and explain who I was and try to get an interview with President Trump. When the President was set to board Marine one I was right there with all the “professionals” on the South Lawn of the White House standing inches away from the President of the United States trying to shout questions at him about Fatherhood. He pointed at me once as if I had the next go but then took a question from some woman who asked a ridiculous question and the President went on a tear before he turned to board the waiting chopper. I was close but no cigar.
The following day I was able to take part in a gaggle with Kellyanne Conway and I asked her a few questions about her opinion of President Trump as a Father and a Grandfather. She responded with some kind words and it made for an excellent sound bite for the show. I went to the White House for five straight days but never had a chance to speak with the President or his Press Secretary.
I returned on multiple occasions but still came up short of the ultimate goal. Then the China virus hit. I submitted my information for clearance in May of 2020 but was turned down because of the concerns of the virus. Only the big shots were being granted access. I feared I may not make it back to the White House. By now there was a new Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. The beautifully intelligent young mother had been slaying the White House Press Correspondents for months. It was pretty impressive to watch from afar. I knew I had to try and speak with her and tell her my dream of interviewing the President. I submitted my information at the end of November and was once again granted access to the White House.
My goal on this trip was to speak with Kayleigh for a few minutes and try to convince her to schedule an interview with President Trump on First Class Fatherhood. I spoke with her assistant on Monday and she told me it looked like there would be an opening for me to speak with Kayleigh on Wednesday. So I stuck it out all day at the White House even though there was nothing scheduled for Monday or Tuesday just in case something popped up. Those two days were uneventful but it was cool to FaceTime with my wife and four kids from the White House.
Wednesday I got word through a Press Pool email that there was going to be a Press Briefing at 1:00pm. I had to be there. I sat in the last row of the briefing room hoping to blend in until the briefing began. One minute before 1:00pm one of the camera men realized I wasn’t where I belonged. He asked me if I was a part of the Press pool and I played Mickey the Dope. He told me I couldn’t be in the Briefing room at all. I shifted to the other side of the room and stood next to a couple of other guys who just came in. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to miss an opportunity to ask the Press Secretary a question about President Trump as a father.
The briefing began and Kayleigh was on fire as always. When she began taking questions I had my hand up and was ready to seize this opportunity. She called on the lady in front of me and my heart skipped a beat as I thought for a moment she was calling on me. After several questions she began to wrap up the briefing. I knew from watching previous briefings that usually the “professionals” shout out sarcastic questions to her as she leaves the briefing room. Not today I thought. As she turned to leave I shouted out “You crushed that Kayleigh!” Heads turned on a dime as everyone looked to see who shouted it. The two gentlemen next to me began to leave at the same time. I had no idea that one of them was Kayleigh’s husband. I was too overcome with adrenaline and focusing on the question I was going to ask that I never noticed. One of the cameramen said “You’re supposed to have a mask on!” and followed it up with “Next time put a mask on!” One of the gentlemen responded with “Are you talking about, Kayleigh’s husband?” I said to myself “Kayleigh’s husband?” I bolted out of the briefing room to chase him down. I had been trying to contact Sean Gilmartin on social media to invite him on the show. I caught up with him right before he went into the Oval Office entrance and spoke with him for a few minutes and invited him to join me on the podcast. After that the White House called a lunch lid at 1:57pm until 3:00pm so I went out to get some coffee and a sandwich. At 2:09pm I received a call from the White House. I thought they were going to tell me that Kayleigh had a few minutes to talk but instead they asked me to confirm whether or not I was the one who called out “You crushed that Kayleigh!” at the end of the briefing. I told them it was me and apologized if that caused any trouble. At 2:20pm I received a notification from Twitter that I was tagged in a tweet by Chris Megerian, the White House press pool reporter, in which he admitted to deleting a Tweet about Kayleigh’s husband being the one who shouted “You crushed it Kayleigh!” and correctly stated that it was me. At 2:32pm the press pool sent out an email about Sean Gilmartin not wearing a mask and me shouting “You crushed that Kayleigh!”
Soon after my Twitter feed started blowing up with mentions about the incident. So I naturally tried to jump on the opportunity to promote the podcast with several tweets of my own. Needless to say I got some funny looks when I returned to the briefing room and heard one guy mock what I had said. Again, I totally understood. This was their territory, their livelihoods and not mine. They don’t keep any secrets about hating the President and now they knew that I liked him. Many stories started popping up online and many of them focused on Sean Gilmartin not wearing a mask. It wasn’t until later that night around 9:00pm when I was on the train back to New Jersey that I watched Anderson Cooper falsely claim it was Sean who yelled “You crushed it Kayleigh!” on his CNN show Anderson Cooper 360. After Kayleigh put out a tweet of her own to point out that it was Fake News, Anderson tweeted an apology stating that he was going off a pool report and that the pool report was later corrected. This was an obvious lie. There was never any pool report that stated Kayleigh’s husband shouted it only the tweet from Megerian who deleted it and corrected it at 2:00pm. So Anderson knowingly reported Fake News to hundreds of thousands of viewers and then apologized with a tweet that was liked by 1,500 people and bots on Twitter.
So I left the White House once again without accomplishing my goal. But shouting out “You crushed it Kayleigh!” may have moved me a few inches closer. I know it put me on Kayleigh’s radar and it gave me a chance to speak with her husband. I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to the White House but it was an honor to be there. One way or the other I will continue to persist, imagine, pray and have faith that I will obtain my ultimate goal of interviewing President Donald Trump.
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