Live from the Roosevelt Room

Dr EvilIt’s been a big week for us at Yahoo! News.

You might have heard — we interviewed the President. George W. Bush, in the flesh, at the White House.

And, the best part? We made history. Believe it or not, this was the first on-camera interview the President has done for an online-only entity in his entire tenure in office. As we say in the news biz — what a “get”!

The White House was kind enough to let us conduct the interview in the Roosevelt Room — the President has only done one other on-camera interview there. It’s feet from the Oval Office and is usually used as a conference room (think cabinet meetings).

The White House says “President Richard Nixon named the room in 1969 to honor Theodore Roosevelt for building the West Wing and Franklin Roosevelt for expanding it.” Teddy’s Medal of Honor and Nobel Peace Prize hang on walls a few feet away from the large picture of him at the end of the room. All fine reminders that this was an historic event.

The interview was conducted by Mike Allen, the chief political correspondent for Politico (our Election 2008 partners). Our first-class production team shot the interview. Our exec producer and vice president of original programming, Neeraj Khemlani, came with us to oversee the whole production. (He used to work at 60 Minutes. Take a look at the interview — you can tell he had a hand in it. It looked sharp!)

The idea of interviewing Mr. Bush started when our friends and partners at Politico joined forces with us to cover the 2008 campaign. Eventually, we were interviewing presidential candidates (see interviews here) with Mike Allen. Then we were writing stories on the primaries. And ultimately, we’re hosting their first-class content on our site. We wondered what big “get” we could do next — all signs pointed to the White House.

We took a good look at our audience when we decided just what we’d ask President Bush when we sat down with him. Of our 40 million users, we were pretty sure not all of them are watching Meet the Press every week. So we posed a broad range of questions, touching on everything from the war in Iraq (and why it spurred him to quit golf) to his daughter’s wedding to which Saturday Night Live comedian pulled off the best impression. (It goes without saying that as Yahoo!, we can get away with questions that are outside Tim Russert’s domain.) We even got a Dr. Evil impression out of him. We also asked questions submitted by users, like whether he felt personally misled by pre-war Iraq intelligence and what he could do about the rising price of gas.

No matter which aspect of this President people were interested in, we're proud to have brought it to you from a special place in a special format.

Erin Green
Producer, Yahoo! News