I feel like I owe an apology to all who tuned in today to see me as part of a blogger group on the NBC broadcast. If you stayed up late enough, you may have caught us. But I suspect that few did.
It was an odd day, an instance of the inscrutability of the television studio. NBC insisted that I come to New York last night so there would be no doubt that I could be at “30 Rock”–apparently I am the only living person who had no idea what that meant–by 1 p.m. today. The plan was for us to be on MSNBC from 3 to 7, eastern time, and then participate in the NBC broadcast from 7 to 1 a.m. We did our first MSNBC segment at around 3:30; it was nothing special, but we thought it went well. I should say that “we” consisted of Joe Trippi, the guy who ran Howard Dean’s internet operation, Ana Marie Cox (the Wonkette), and me.
After our 3:30 segment, an assistant producer told us that they loved our spot and would be coming back to us often. That was it, however, for MSNBC. We never appeared as a group again, although Joe did a number of solo bits. I realized eventually that he is actually on the MSNBC payroll, whereas Ana and I were, so to speak, freebies.
From 3:30 until some time after 1:00 a.m.–around ten hours–NBC completely ignored us. We began to wonder whether they had forgotten that we were there. We didn’t do another segment until some time betwee 1 and 2, when, as we thought, NBC was wrapping up for the night. We turned that opportunity into a discussion of the impact of blogs and the internet on this year’s campaign. I said that the blogs were influential because 1) they directed attention to the Swift Boat Vets’ ad and website at a time when the Vets had no money, and 2) they debunked some mainstream stories that had the potential to damage the Bush campaign, the prime example being the 60 Minutes forged documents. Somehow I had the feeling that Tom Brokaw didn’t approve of either of my points, especially the second.
We then prepared to leave the studio, glad that we finally had gotten onto the broadcast. Mrs. Rocket said I did OK, but she was rather guarded, so I can only say that I’m not responsible for what I say after 1 a.m. It’s way past my bedtime. But NBC woudn’t let us leave. They didn’t put us under restraint–after all, they weren’t paying us anything–but they guilted us into staying another hour by assuring us that they were going to come back to the bloggers between 2 and 3. And they did, at about five to 3, eastern time. Brokaw asked me what people were saying on the blogs about what Kerry should do. I ignored the question, in part at least, and said that I thought he should concede gracefully, as, while a squadron of lawyers can perhaps overcome a 500 vote deficit, they are helpless against a 125,000 vote margin.
Our duty finally done, I repaired to my hotel, where I am typing this while enjoying a celebratory scotch.
As usual in these media affairs, the camaraderie of wondering why the hell we were being ignored for ten hours overcame our ideological differences. Joe and Ana were cordial–Joe, really, is nicer than I would have imagined anyone associated with the Dean campaign could be. And, just as they didn’t rub it in when the wholly fictitious exit polls were being published–mostly, in fact by Ana, who disseminated them throughout the internet–I tried to be gracious when the real results came in. I could be wrong, but, even though Joe and Ana are undoubtedly loyal Democrats, their dismay at the result didn’t seem too overwhelming. I speculate that maybe they don’t fully buy the party line that another four years of George W. will plunge the nation into the abyss.
Anyway, it was a weird but fun day spent with congenial folks, and I did get to meet Brokaw, even if only as a disembodied voice in my ear. All’s well, as someone once said, that ends well.
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