The Media are the Message

Folks, I’m sorry I haven’t posted today, and that it will likely be several more hours before I DO post again. Reaction to our endorsement, plus the increased national and international media interest in South Carolina because of the primaries, are combining to eat up the little bits and pieces of time in which I usually blog while doing my actual job.

(For those who don’t know, I’m the editorial page editor of South Carolina’s largest newspaper, which means I have a lot to do even in normal times. No, the job is NOT simply about sitting around cogitating and then spouting opinions at random; I don’t care what you may have heard.)

… OK, long interruption there. I typed the above around 2:20 p.m.; it’s now 5:40; I’ve been in meetings ever since…

But one thing that took up time this morning — time I might have used to do a blog post or two — was kind of fun. Which brings me to what I was going to write this post about: the intense media interest (and voter interest, I might add, in the South Carolina primaries: Just FYI, here’s what I’ve run into in the last few days…

  • This morning, I was interviewed by Cyprien d’Haese of French television — precisely, CAPA presse tv. Cyprien’s one of these triple-threat guys — he conducted the interview, and was his own camera and sound man. The interview was about our McCain endorsement. You can see and hear above a video clip I shot of him shooting video of me (talk about medium being the message). This was sort of last-minute thing — someone called me to set it up while I was at breakfast.
  • Also during breakfast, I got a call from John Durst with the Columbia Rotary, to which I belong, asking if I would give a presentation at today’s meeting about endorsements. This I did, using most of the time for Q and A, which makes it easier on me and more interesting for the audience — there are always plenty of questions. Cyprien came along to shoot some footage of my presentation — after the interview, he had wanted some extra footage, and I suggested that would be more interesting than me sitting at a computer editing copy.
  • As I stepped down from the podium at Rotary, a young Danish woman named Sara SchlĂĽter who works for this outfit (I give you the link because I’m not sure which is the name of her employer — is it "Avidsen," or "Nyhedsavisen" or what?) gave me her card, said she was on her way back home but wanted to call me later in the week for an interview. I said fine and gave her my contact info.
  • Just after 7:30 a.m. Sunday, I did a live interview via phone with C-SPAN about our endorsement. I’m sure you were watching then, so I won’t go into any more details…
  • Last Wednesday, I got a call from NPR’s All Things Considered wanting me on the show that day — something to do with my column that day — but by the time I called back they had lined up somebody else. Bill Putman with the show said he’d call back if they changed again and needed me. Unfortunately, I didn’t check voice mail or e-mail again until late in the day — Mr. Putnam had called me back three times, e-mailed me at least twice, and Michelle Norris had e-mailed me to say, in part, "I am a big fan of your blog [isn’t everyone?] and I think you are just the right person for this segment. Bill is having a tough time reaching you…." So I missed my chance there. But Ms. Norris said she’d be in town this week and would probably call…
  • One night last week (it tends to be night usually before I can return phone calls) I gave an interview with Jennifer Rubin with Human Events, which I’ve never read. When I mentioned this to my colleagues, Mike observed that "Human Events makes National Review look like Pravda." Be that as it may, she sent me a link to her story, and here it is.
  • Linda Hurst with The Toronto Star called, also about midweek. She had seen my video from talking to Ted Sorensen (or maybe it was Andy’s video, which is better), and wanted to talk to me about the parallels between JFK and Obama (which she frankly thought were sort of overblown). Here’s the story that she was working on.
  • I’m going to be on KARN radio in Little Rock this coming Friday morning at 8:40. Something called "First News with Bob Steel." The guy who contacted me said, "We’re looking to get a picture of what the citizens in your state are looking for in the Republican candidates, with a little extra interest in our local man, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee." OK.
  • Karen Shiffman of public radio’s "On Point" (I think it’s in Boston) wants me on the show in the 10-11 a.m. slot this Wednesday. I can’t remember where we left that…
  • I had to cancel something with a radio station in Boston this past Friday; we’re supposed to try again this week. I forget the station. Host’s name is Robin Young, and it will be live. They haven’t called back, but I guess it’s on.
  • Morgan Till with "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" e-mailed me last week wanting an interview this week. I forget where we left that one, too…
  • I’m supposed to be on "The Dennis Miller Show" again Thursday. Awaiting details.
  • Carrie Bann, who blogs and produces for NBC, wanted to get together, but that hasn’t happened yet.
  • Finally, I’ll be on ETV live with Andy Gobeil, as per usual, for the primary results the next two Saturday nights.

OK, so you’re not all that interested. I just needed to make myself a memo of where I was with all that stuff, and since I hadn’t posted anything today, I figured I’d put it on the blog. Also, I thought you might like the video clip with Cyprien.

7 thoughts on “The Media are the Message

  1. Gordon Hirsch

    It’s pretty sad that one journalist interviewing another is even considered news. I remember when that was called cheesy — real journalists went out and talked to real people. You need an agent, Brad?

  2. Lee Muller

    This is what passes for journalism today. How sad.
    The public would like to hear Hillary, McCain and others probed with direct questions about their political agenda, and get some direct answers about why their current platforms don’t match their long political histories.
    Instead, 90% of political coverage is no-work, sitting around with other pundits, speculating about the mental state and tactical cleverness of the candidates. Mediocre candidates and dishonest campaigns thrive in this dark, damp, journalistic vacuum.

  3. Gordon Hirsch

    It’s like watching ESPN half-time commentary. Need more coverage of candidates, less pundit bs.

  4. Brad Warthen

    I would love to have Lee follow me through a day of “no-work, sitting around.” Maybe someday, I’ll get to do that. I figure that maybe, just maybe, I can retire when I’m 80.
    And Gordon, I certainly hope I don’t have to explain to you the heavy irony in this post. I mean, give me some credit, guys. Who shoots video of a guy shooting video of HIM if he doesn’t have a strong sense of the absurdity of the situation? Personally, I thought it was a nice touch.
    These are the jokes, people…

  5. Lee Muller

    Where would I follow your, Mr. Warthen – to check your email for attention from other pundits?
    If you think my criticism is invalid, address it. Post the tough questions you or any other journalist asked any candidates about their core philosophy, along with what few honest answers you received.
    I am a former newspaper and magazine feature writer. I have sat in editorial board morning sessions. I have run for office, and I have been interviewed by reporters and editorial boards – good, bad, and indifferent.
    Most of the national level journalists either know too little about the histories of these candidates, and so little about history and economics, that they cannot conduct a meaningful interview. They fall back on generic questions for which the politicians have seen and have ready bromides waiting. Then they press passes this pap onto its customers, who stop reading, watching and listening.
    Mass media coverage of the election is about personalities, and what other pundits think about their gaffs, strategies, tactics and dirty tricks. Most of the journalists have favorites early on in the campaign, and skew their coverage to boost them and tear down the other candidates. Many of them are former staffers who cannot even admit the failures of their former bosses, because they don’t want to lock the revolving door.

  6. Gordon Hirsch

    Brad … I do appreciate the irony of your post. It’s good to see a newspaper guy interacting with the world outside his window, honestly. It would be better still if if newspapers were asking the tough questions instead of boring us to tears with eye-witness accounts of candidate pep rallies.

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