Reporters and photographers have traveled with president for years on ships, trains, and busses. This travel is NOT at the expense of the United States Tax payer. The press pays their own way. Since the Truman administration the airline charter has been the usual transportation. All of the expenses on a trip, (the airline charter, the ground transportation, the telephone lines, everything) is added up and then divided by the number of press on the particular trip, There is always a media pool on Air Force One and each member of the pool pays the same amount as the press on the charter. The cost of the charter has increased and the number of media traveling with the president have decreased, so the cost of the seats for the traveling presidential press today has become frightfully expensive. One of the last trips to the Far East ran from sixty to seventy-five thousand dollars a seat. The press charters are decreasing in number and coverage is often left to the Air Force One pool. Of course, each organization in the Air Force One pool pays for this travel.
National Airlines was the first airline to fly a press charter. It was from Washington National Airport to Boca Chita, Florida. President Truman read his morning news thanks to a daily delivery of the New York and Washington newspapers courtesy of John Morris, the National Airlines vice president. The first overseas press charter flight, in October 1950, was a Pan American World Airways Stratocruiser that accompanied Truman from Washington to St. Louis, San Francisco, Hawaii and then Wake Island for a meeting between Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. Pan American was the logical choice for the
charter because it had been serving Wake Island for years as a refueling stop for its sea planes. On the island, Truman rested for an hour or two at the quonset living quarters of the Pan American station manager.
The press charters were part of the Carter travel to Japan in 1979 to attend an economic summit. Economic summits were major stories in the seventies and eighties. It was planned as a long trip covering Japan and Korea, but the stop that was of particular interest to the members of the press was a three- day rest stop in Hawaii on the return. In Korea, Carter feared that pictures of the president and first lady relaxing on a beach would not be received favorably while Americans were waiting in long gas lines so he decided to return to Washington. No three-day rest stop. The press was not happy and decided to party. Drinks flowed, and soon a couple with their earphones on started dancing in the aisles. Others followed and the entire plane turned into a disco—not your average airline flight.
Naomi Nover was not your average correspondent. Always in a blue dress, sometimes one with white polka dots, she made all of the foreign trips during the Carter years—and those during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Her husband, Barney Nover, had been a correspondent for the Washington Post and the Denver Post. When he retired in 1971 he founded the Nover News Service with his wife. After her husband’s death, Naomi Nover kept her press creden- tials. No one could ever find a client for the Nover News Service, but that did not stop her. She would sign up for every foreign presidential trip and was the first to send in a check for the White House travel
office invoice. Naomi—everyone knew her by her first name—had a grand- motherly, Mrs. Doubtfire-like appearance that disguised an aggressive force not to be taken lightly. Once, at the Capitol, she rushed to the ladies room, only to find all of the stalls occupied. She managed to open one, ripped a woman off the toilet, and yelled, “Sorry, I’m on deadline.” The thing was, Naomi had no deadlines.
Photographers tried to give Naomi a wide berth, but it was difficult. She carried a point-and-shoot camera and thought she was entitled to be in the photographers’ areas. During a trip to Britain, Carter was working a rope line in Newcastle when he lifted a plump, ugly baby. For photographer Dick Swanson, on assignment for People, it was a perfect picture. He did a “Hail Mary” over Naomi to take the photo. She turned so that she was facing Swanson, smiled, and with all her strength kneed him in the groin.
More than once, members of the White House travel office staff had to run to escape Naomi’s umbrella as she swung it toward their heads. Hotel staff also could suffer her wrath. Naomi complained about her bill at one hotel, but the clerk told her that records showed that she had cleared out the mini bar. She opened her huge blue purse and dumped a refrigerator full of little bottles on the hotel’s counter. Naomi was always trying to sneak into press pools. When President Ronald Reagan and the first lady were touring the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China, she was determined to get in the floor pool position. A Chinese guard blocked her. Gary Schuster, a reporter for the Detroit News, pointed to Naomi and showed the guard a one-dollar bill with its presidential portrait—Naomi did look a lot like George Washington—and told the guard, “Very famous.” The guard bowed and allowed her to join the photographers.