Kristen Welker has sacrificed a lot to covering politics, including one of the five senses.
“I got such a bad series of sinus infections while covering President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, I lost my sense of smell!” the White House correspondent for NBC News says, citing the long hours, lack of sleep and frequent flying.
“I had to have surgery to fix it,” she said.
That means while her nostrils can pick up the scent of lotions, they can’t detect a whiff of brownies baking in the oven. “While my sense of smell is much better, I still only smell at about 90 percent,” she says.
Not that the self-described “foodie” is indulging in that many baked goods these days.
“I try to have a balanced diet. I try to write down everything that I eat,” she says. “Some days are more successful than others ... I really love carbohydrates, just like everyone else.”
Another of Welker’s loves: Madonna. “I know the words to almost every ’80s song,” she boasts.
A devoted Philadelphia Phillies fan, Welker enjoys exercising and catching sports and reality TV shows in her downtime. Her regular workout includes running, elliptical machines and some abdominal work.
“I’ve recently explored the beauty of doing sit-ups on those endurance balls,” she said. “It adds a whole new dimension of difficult.”
Welker, 38, appears to be up for a challenge. Saying she likes “everything” about her job, she acknowledges the work can be tough.
“The hardest part about my job is that you can’t take your eye off the ball for one minute — ever.” But, she adds, “I feel like I’m participating in our democracy, so I feel it’s incredibly important.”
Despite the demanding schedule, there are some lighter moments that Welker’s willing to share. Shortly after news of an alleged Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia broke last year, Welker was working a weekend shift at the White House.
“We were standing outside, and all of a sudden a pigeon came overhead and just went to the bathroom ... on my head, right before one of my live shots, and everyone started laughing,” Welker recounts.
She recalls with a smile the Secret Service agents were “especially giggly because they knew I had been covering the Secret Service scandal. So they got a good chuckle.”
— Judy Kurtz
Ashley Perks contributed