Jimmy Orr, managing editor of the Los Angeles Times and former White House communications staffer, has a column remembering “Barney cam.” It was a 2002 project in which a video tour of the White House during Christmas time was seen through the eyes of Barney, President George W. Bush‘s dog which died Friday.
Orr knew the video was kind of ridiculous, but it was a hit on the White House website. He writes:
The video was just Barney running through the White House chasing a big red ornament and stopping in all the major rooms to look up at the decorations. The soundtrack was Christmas music.
Laura Bush unveiled the video at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. All three major news networks carried the entire 4½-minute video live.
At about the four-minute mark on CNN, the newscaster said, “I can’t believe we’re airing this.” I had to nod in agreement.
We put the video on the White House website, and the traffic was so huge it brought the site down briefly. That week, the video was downloaded 600,000 times. This was in 2002. Pre-YouTube. And pre-mass broadband. If you wanted to watch the video, you had to have patience.
The best part… is how Orr describes first attempting to put a collar on Barney. The dog protested by lying on the ground and yelping. “The last thing I needed was for the leader of the free world to think I was torturing his dog,” Orr says.