Today I was favored with a visit from Zoe Rachel Usherwood, Foreign Affairs Producer for Sky News in the U.K. That’s her in the video above explaining her mission, which had been previously represented to me as follows in the initial request for a meeting:
… I work with The Palmetto Council for International Visitors (PCIV), a non-profit volunteer organization located in the World Affairs Council office in Columbia, SC. We are an affiliate of the Columbia Council for International Visitors, as well as a member of the National Council for International Visitors partnered with the U.S. Department of State. PCIV designs and implements professional programs for international leaders who have been selected by the State Department to visit South Carolina.
We currently have an upcoming visitor that has specifically requested to meet with local media members during her visit.
Ms. Zoe Rachel Usherwood is the Foreign Affairs Producer for Sky News in the United Kingdom. If possible she would welcome a meeting on Thursday, January 31st. or Friday, Feb. 1. Her biography is also attached for your consideration.
These State Department guest has specifically requested to meet with local media concerning the election process, so we hope to be able to arrange a meeting(s) with you. These meetings last around an hour and would generally include an informal discussion about your coverage and a question/answer session.
I pass this on as a way of bringing you up-to-date regarding a phenomenon I mentioned previously here — the intense national and international interest in South Carolina during the recent primaries, which resulted in a lot of folks wanting to interview me for a change, creating such situations as me shooting video of someone shooting video of me, etc. Weird stuff.
- I think Ms. Usherwood is the last for awhile, but last week was fairly hectic. Some examples:
Several things didn’t work out, either because of my time, or missed communications — NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and NPR’s "On Point." On two additional occasions, Michele Norris tried to get me on "All Things Considered," but it never worked out. CNN wanted me to run down to Charleston for an interview one evening, but I declined.
- On Wednesday, I did another live thing on the phone at some ungodly hour of the morning about our Obama endorsement on C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal." I had done the same 10 days earlier, that time on a SUNDAY morning, about our McCain endorsement.
- Friday, I phoned in an interview with the Here and Now program on public radio out of Boston. That night, when I went by to visit my new twin granddaughters, my son-in-law said his sister-in-law in Boston had mentioned hearing me. This was reassuring, because it was good to know somebody was listening to some of this stuff I was doing.
- Later that morning I had a good time chatting with a soundman named Anthony Birchley and a reporter named Kevin, both of the BBC, when they came down to my office to tape a segment. Kevin is an Arsenal fan, and he and Anthony had trouble taking in the fact that Williams-Brice Stadium, which looms outside my window, is a mere college sports venue.
- Friday was actually kind of a blur. I had turned down an interview with one Danish journalist, but ended up having someone else from that country call on the phone and we talked for a while. At least I’m in demand in Copenhagen. That night, when I was standing in line trying to get in to the Obama rally, I met a Swedish reporter who, when she learned who I was, pulled out the notebook.
- On the Saturdays of both the Republican and Democratic primaries, I did an hour live from a tent on the State House grounds with Alhurra TV. Alhurra is a U.S. government-funded operation that broadcasts into the Mideast. It’s sort of like Voice of America in Arabic. This was the trickiest of all the interviews, as my host was speaking to me in Arabic, and he was a lot louder than the man who was translating into my earpiece. But I got through it. (In the picture at the bottom of this post you see a reporter for Alhurra doing a standup in the tent just after the show I did).
- Before I could get away from the tent, Emile Baroody of Dubai TV approached me and asked if we could talk that night. I told him I was committed to S.C. ETV from 8 to 10, so he said how about after that? I said OK, we traded phone numbers, and he asked me where ETV was located. I told him it was near that stadium south of town that Arsenal might envy.
- Driving away, I saw I’d missed a call, from Gal Beckerman with Columbia Journalism Review. I agreed to meet him at the Starbuck’s on Gervais, and we spoke for about an hour. The place was full of out-of-town (and country) media here for the Democratic Primary. Gal (pronounced "Gaul," it’s an Israeli name) wanted to talk to me about… get this… all the media that was in town wanting to talk to me. So I was interviewed by one medium wanting to know about other media interviewing a media guy. This, if anything, topped the irony of my French TV experience.
- That night, I did my ETV gig; maybe you saw me. Anyway, as I was packing up my laptop to head home, whom should I find, right there in the studio, but Emile from Dubai? Based on my sketchy directions, he had come out to ETV, asked permission to use their studio, and here he was with his cameraman ready to take advantage of the lighting. That Emile is one enterprising guy.
What did we talk about? To a great extent, stuff that you could probably talk about as well as I could. Beyond that we talked about our endorsements of McCain and Obama — that was the easiest, and for me most relevant, topic.
Anyway, that completes my report on the reports. The bottom line is that I figure my experience was sort of a microcosm of what was happening to South Carolina the last couple of weeks. The eyes of the world were most assuredly upon us.