On Jan. 20, while most Americans were glued to their televisions, Henry Goodier ’23 was seated on the west front of the U.S. Capitol building watching the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Goodier, an aspiring economics major and member of The Pioneer Log editorial board, attended the ceremony as the culminating event of an eight-day inaugural internship through the Senate Radio-Television Gallery (SRTG), one of four press rooms that manage relations between the Senate and major newsrooms. The opportunity arose through an employee of the SRTG, whom Goodier had shadowed as a high school student.
“In high school, I had reached out to her about participating in a day with her, shadowing her around,” Goodier said. “I ended up loving it. Two years later, I got an email from her saying ‘Hey, would you like to be an intern at the inauguration?’ I stopped everything and said ‘Oh my God, absolutely.’”
Goodier was responsible for credentialing news reporters covering the inauguration. Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, heightened security resulted in the discontinuation of standard press passes held by Capitol Hill reporters. Consequently, special credentials for the inauguration were issued to the media after background checks and other security measures took place. Since reporters could not pass barricades protecting the Capitol grounds without these credentials, Goodier escorted members of the press into the lockdown zone and provided them their press passes.
“Reporters were unable to get near the Capitol because of all the security,” Goodier said. “They didn’t have their credentials yet and we were supposed to get them their credentials. We didn’t have any way to do that because the city of D.C. was basically shut down. It got to the point where I was an escort and would go to the corner of a street, talk to the National Guard … and they would bring them in.”
In one instance, Goodier learned that Kristen Welker, NBC News’ White House correspondent and the moderator of the second presidential debate between Biden and former President Donald Trump, had her credentials revoked. Eventually, Goodier personally gave her a new press pass to cover the inauguration.
On Inauguration Day, after spending the night in the Capitol building, Goodier woke up at 3 a.m. EST and began helping the press set up for the ceremony. At one point, a woman who Goodier was working with led him to a room on the building’s lower floor. There, Goodier met former President George W. Bush, who had just arrived for the inauguration.
“A woman I worked with was a stenographer for Clinton, Bush and the first term of Obama,” Goodier said. “She was really close with Bush. She found out that he had just gotten in and took me down to meet him. It was pretty wild.”
As they were speaking with Bush, a door opened and two other famous faces entered the room.
“Barack and Michelle (Obama) came out of another room,” Goodier said. “I was so starstruck. It was one of the coolest moments of my life.”
During the ceremony, Goodier was seated on the Capitol’s west front in close proximity to the spot where both Biden and Harris were sworn in. He also watched performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, listened to Amanda Gorman’s now-famous inaugural poem and enjoyed the benediction offered by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Wilmington, Delaware.
When the inauguration concluded, Goodier was able to relax after eight days of challenging work and took in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He continued to witness extraordinary sights and began bumping into various politicians and celebrities.
“I never thought I’d see A-Rod and Barack Obama help J.Lo up the stairs,” Goodier said. “And I kept running into senators. Chris Coons, the Delaware senator, waved to me and I ran into (Sen.) Gary Peters while he was taking a selfie.”
Goodier recognizes this experience as a formative accomplishment on his resume. While he is still contemplating a career path, Goodier may pursue an opportunity in politics or public relations. In the meantime, Goodier plans to cherish the memories he made as he returns to Portland for the Spring 2021 semester.