Shannon Bream dressed like she was getting cozy and going hunting at the same time when she reported on Inauguration Day 2009.
“I had on tights. I had on my husband’s insulated hunting and fishing socks that he wears outdoors. I had on Long Johns, my nice pants in case they ever actually were seen. Over that I had ski pants. I had my coat, and I had special little hand-warmer packets that I put in my shoes and my gloves. And on top of that, between my live reports, I did have on a Snuggie. I will admit that,” she said.
She pulled on the bright pink Snuggie, a blanket with built-in sleeves, to shield herself from the frigid temperatures — and next thing she knew, Secret Service men were rushing toward her.
“At one point two Secret Service agents came running up to me, and I thought ‘Oh, no, I’ve touched something or done something wrong.’ We try to be very careful when it’s a secure situation like that. But they said, ‘No, we have a bet. We want to know, is that a Snuggie you’re wearing?’” she recalled, laughing.
Bream, who maintained her dignity by removing the Snuggie when soon-to-be President Barack Obama was nearby, said her mom bought her the unique blanket.
“You see the commercials all the time. You don’t really ever actually see someone wearing a Snuggie — and in public — but we call it now The Inaugural Snuggie in the office,” she said, adding that the Snuggie photos have made quite a splash on her Facebook page.
Jokes aside, Bream said Inauguration Day 2009 was one of her most memorable days at FOX News Channel.
Her work started at 5 a.m. that Tuesday and finished at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, beginning with an early service for the Obamas at St. John’s Church across from the White House before the Inauguration and ending with the Obamas’ final dance at a ball at Union Station, not far from the FOX bureau on North Capitol Street.
“You’re kind of going on adrenaline, and it’s an exciting thing because you’re getting to witness history and be right there in the middle of it,” she said.
For Bream, covering the church service that morning was a major highlight.
“Just being within a few feet of [the Obamas] and being able to see the expressions on their faces, I expected to detect something like nervousness or anxiety, but both of them looked so genuinely calm and happy going into and out of that prayer service,” she said. “They seemed so excited and ready to take the next step. And to see them that up-close, within just a couple hours of him going up and taking the oath was really special.”
All media needed to arrive extra early so that Secret Service could sweep their equipment and check their press credentials, she said. After covering the service, Bream returned to the FOX bureau to anchor an online show on FoxNews.com.
She ended her coverage at 3:02 a.m. on Wednesday, reporting with the last live shot of the night as the Obamas shared their final dance at the ball.
“It was a day like no other — to see those crowds and just to feel the excitement,” she said. “To me it’s always a privilege that this job affords you such a front row seat to history.”
Besides her experiences on Inauguration Day, Bream has met senators, congressmen, governors and other leaders while working at FOX — and her typical beat as a Supreme Court reporter allows her to see some of the most brilliant legal minds in the country argue at the highest court in the land.
“I’m very much a law nerd, in that I love everything the Supreme Court does,” said Bream, who earned a law degree in Florida after graduating from LU with a business degree. “I love watching the justices argue and banter with each other, and some of them are very, very funny. I think people have an idea that the court is very staid. And what they do is extremely important, and they are brilliant legal scholars, but there are a couple comedians up there on the bench as well.”
Though she must be prepared both mentally and physically for any challenge that the job sends her way, she’s not afraid to admit that the Shannon Bream folks see in front of the camera looks a little different from the lady they might see riding the bus and train to work in the mornings.
“I usually come in with wet hair and no make-up. I get some looks once in awhile on the train as I just have a clip holding up my wet hair, and I’m juggling all my bags and my laptop,” she said.
When she arrives at the office, she starts to get ready by putting big pink curlers in her hair and preparing for the story she’ll be delivering that day. “They’re hidden in my drawer now,” Bream said of the curlers. “Many of my co-workers have taken pictures and posted them online, and they think it’s very funny.”
Sometimes Bream has a story the moment that she walks through the door, and within an hour she has to be “in full hair and make-up” and on-air talking about it.
“Those days are pretty hectic,” she said.
Before going on-air, she has to collaborate with a producer to coordinate which elements she’ll use to tell a story, from sound bites to video or graphics. No matter what, she must never give the appearance that she’s been rushed or flustered.
Typically, her last “hit” of the night appears on the 7 p.m. FOX Report with Shepard Smith. Then, if she rode the train, she gathers her belongings and runs to the train station — and her husband, Sheldon Bream (LU Class of 1993), is usually waiting at the other end to pick her up.