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23 Things I Learned About Cable News By Hanging Out With CNN At State Of The Union

The Lead's Jake Tapper got meta with me at the biggest annual event on the political calendar.

Posted on January 30, 2014, at 1:50 p.m. ET

1. You know these cable news live shots from Capitol Hill?

I always thought that they happened up here, but they don't.

The majority of them take place in two buildings called Cannon and Russell.


2. This was the scene at Cannon. As you can see, things are very busy in there during the build-up to a big night like the State of the Union.

3. Cannon is where I found CNN's Jake Tapper. His setup gave more context to the location.


4. There's a lot going on behind the camera when CNN gets out of the studio to do a show on location.

5. It's so crowded back there, even big shot politician dudes have a tough time getting where they need to be.

6. The producers have to share a tiny desk where they are constantly working their butts off and printing out revised scripts.

7. They even had a makeup station since it is January and not everyone has an amazing tan like Speaker Boehner.

8. P.S. It was REALLY cold in Cannon that day.

9. Despite the temperature and all the commotion, the crew was very meticulous.

10. When there was downtime, Tapper relaxed by doing some karaoke.

I KID, I KID! He was actually doing something called voice tracking, which is a kind of a voiceover that is combined with file footage and used later in CNN's broadcast.

11. Tapper really didn't waste much of the downtime. He's crazy about social media and used the opportunities to tweet whenever possible.

12. And, of course, to make Vines.


13. Here he is setting up a whiteboard for a new thing called Jelly.

Jelly allows Tapper to interact with the folks via photos. Here they to got voice their opinions on what the State of the union speech should focus on.


14. One last live hit and it was time for Tapper to head over to the real action in Statuary Hall.

15. Statuary Hall is amazing and CNN had the choicest spot to broadcast from.

Like, totally choice. Back there is where the Obama gives the speech.

I'm not joking. It was THE BEST SPOT.

16. These people were hella jealous. Too bad.

17. After all the commotion, Tapper had time to send out some tweets.

18. And to take Vines of the beautiful hall.

Nice place.

19. I even think I saw MSNBC's Chris Hayes in disguise as a Capitol Hill cop. DEEP COVER, DUDE.

20. After Obama concluded the big speech...

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Tapper and CNN got ready to break some big news...

21. Turns out Tapper scooped Bill O'Reilly's Super Bowl interview with Obama by getting the president to sit down with CNN first on Thursday.

Sorry, Bill!

22. I learned a lot about how frantic and crazy the job of putting on a live cable news show can be.

23. And despite all the madness, the final product was smooth and it was a great day for the team at The Lead. WELL DONE, GUYS!