Intense international media interest in SC


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.


10 thoughts on “Intense international media interest in SC

  1. dave faust

    I’ve heard it reported that more often than not, South Carolina voters support the candidate in the primaries that goes on to become president. If so, then our recent primary votes may mean that either BHO (Barak Hussein Obama) or McCain will become POTUS. If our state has played a part in ensuring that either a one-term Senator who is all about “change” (whatever that means) or a megalomaniac who has personally engineered the destruction of conservatism becomes our president, how is that something to be proud of? Should we be proud that there is intense international media interest in our state? Or am I misreading your intent for reporting this? Maybe you’re just reporting it because it’s “out there” and you don’t intend any meaning beyond that.
    I don’t know why intense media interest in our state would be a good thing. I personally think we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for voting the way we did in the primaries. On the democrat side, I think many people, certainly many in the black community, voted almost strictly along racial lines. How is that a good thing? (I mean, of course people can vote any way they want, but how does a vote like that help the country? Could we not look at the big pic just a little here?!) On the republican side, I think the majority of support we saw for McCain is a rather thoughtless repudiation of our fierce conservative roots in South Carolina. Again, how is that a good thing for the country? Big pic anyone? Are we saying that we’ve been wrong all along, and that we need to dilute and weaken our commitment to the conservative stands of days gone by? Or even worse, have many in our state just jumped on a popular McCain bandwagon? Either way, I assert that we’ve certainly helped McCain in his bid to be POTUS, and if he goes on to be the Elephant nomineee, we’ll have helped elect either BHO or Clinton.
    Not reasons to be proud, in my mind. International media notwithstanding. David

  2. Brad Warthen

    Well, you have now, Tim, in a way. That’s why I did the Boston gig. I had gotten to the point that I was turning down local media from out-of-state, but I thought “Boston — I’ve never been to Boston, and I’ve always wanted to.”
    And Dave, I couldn’t be more thrilled by South Carolina’s two choices, but you’ve probably already gathered that. But you and I still have something in common: I, too, like calling the president “POTUS.” Too many Tom Clancy novels, I guess. Speaking of which, Dave, we just need to give up on the idea that Jack Ryan will someday be POTUS. Not gonna happen.

  3. dave faust

    POTUS! POTUS! POTUS! It makes me feel “totally cool” when I can throw around these arcane and “inside baseball” terms. POTUS! There, I said it again.
    Jack Ryan? I’m definitely down with it if we get a hammertime guy like him to be POTUS and kill bad guys and defend the American way. Unfortunately, I think we’re probably gonna get Hillary handing out Christmas presents, BHO MEETING with bad guys rather than killing them, or John f’ing (his favorite word, apparently) McCain opening our borders to bad guys. David

  4. Harden Gervais

    David – I’m a white male (and Southern, to boot), and I supported Barack Obama, along with over 50 percent of whites 18-30. Keep up that mentality that it’s all about race, though, because that way of thinking will be gone soon enough.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Just got a lovely note from Zoe, who seems to be back home now — but with modern communications, who can tell for sure?


    Just a note to say thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I appreciate that you have been inundated with journalists for the past month and you had hoped to have seen the back of us all! I met with Catherine Cristman from ETV today and she alerted me to the video on the blog. I honestly think I have never looked so uncomfortable in my life! It’s a funny souvenir of my time in the States, so… um, thank you, I think…

    With best of wishes, Zoe

    Zoe Usherwood
    Interviews Editor, Sky News


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