The Great Rockefeller Race

Thursday, 8/7

8:15 a.m., Berlin, CT

VAN SACK: We knew that Rockefeller had attended Berlin High School, so I got up at 5 in the morning and drove down. Lo and behold, the school record has his full German name and birthplace. I called my editor from the parking lot and he said, "You’re going to Germany."

1 p.m., Boston Globe newsroom

CRAMER: I’m calling sources and we don’t have a firm grasp yet that Clark Rockefeller is Christian Gerhartsreiter. At 5:30, my editor said, "We need to have someone on the ground anyway. Go to Germany."

7 p.m., Logan Airport

VAN SACK: I’m standing in line to get on the plane with my photographer and I’m thinking, Where is the Globe? And then I see this hooded figure—with great legs. The hood comes down and there’s Maria. I was freaking out, basically.

CRAMER: I thought it would be to my advantage if I hid…. When we got on the plane, I was sitting way at the front. I thought, Good, I have a head start.

10 p.m., somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean

VAN SACK: I was furiously trying to call the Herald from the airplane phone. At one point, I had to wait for Maria to finish using the bathroom near me because I didn’t want to risk her overhearing.

CRAMER: My photographer missed the flight; I don’t have a translator; I have no idea where I’m going. I was pathetic. I was so sad.

Friday, 8/8

10 a.m., Munich Airport

CRAMER: I get my baggage and I see Jessica at the car rental place. I said, "Let’s just agree to this: We won’t tell anybody else not to talk to the other person." And Jessica was like…okay.

VAN SACK: I thought about it for a second.

CRAMER: I know! I saw a look of hesitation. I was like, Come on, dude. We’ve traveled thousands of miles. In Dorchester, fine, but in Germany, no.

12:30 p.m., Bergen, Germany

VAN SACK: After getting on my e-mail and getting the address, I went barreling down the autobahn to Bergen. I interviewed Rockefeller’s brother for 90 minutes.

CRAMER: I finally find the house. My stomach was in knots. Then I look over and see Jessica and her photographer scurrying away.

VAN SACK: I think I actually assaulted my photographer at that point. Maria may still be turned away—if she sees me, she’ll know it’s the right place. So I pushed him toward the end of the driveway.

CRAMER: Rockefeller’s brother said, "I really don’t feel like I should talk." I was like, "If you don’t talk to me, I’m going to be in so much trouble. Please, please, please." He was very gracious and gave me 20 minutes.

VAN SACK: After my story was filed, it languished for half an hour, 45 minutes.

CRAMER: I call the desk and say, "We’ve got to get this online right now!"

VAN SACK: Maria’s story got up first. I literally threw my phone across my hotel room.

CRAMER: You know, this Herald-Globe competition, it was kind of like the good old days.

  • Neena

    The only people who care about this kind of stuff are other newspaper people. Readers don’t care who got it a few minutes before the other one. It’s silly, though entertaining to read about, and a complete waste of energy.