MEDIA
12/12/2014 11:20 am ET Updated Dec 12, 2014

ABC News' Ann Compton Reflects On 40 Years Covering the White House

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

The flash of a president’s profanity-laced anger over “scandals.” The grief embracing parents of first grade victims of a classroom shooting. Euphoria over Middle East peace accords. The look of grave realization as he hears the whispered news: “A second plane has hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack.

I retired from ABC News on September 10, 41 years to the day after I arrived as a network correspondent in 1973. Back then, the Cold War was hot, the Middle East was in flames and Watergate was coming to a boil. When Richard M. Nixon finally resigned to avoid impeachment the following year, the president of ABC News in New York deployed me, his youngest recruit, to the White House beat. No network had ever assigned a woman there, and coverage would demand near constant travel. Being the first woman assigned was not the challenge. It was age. I was 27 years old, inexperienced and untested.

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