Perhaps you caught my national television debut Thursday night.
Up in Spin Alley, a short CNN reporter was standing on a hardshell camera case to get eye level with Bo Biden as she got his take on how badly his father Joe had pummelled the young congressman from Wisconsin.
There’s a picture, I thought. Click. Click. Click.
“Get out of there you idiot,” a man seethed under his breath as he motioned me out of the shot. “You’re on TV.”
Welcome to the big time, small timer. Now get out of the way.
Having media credentials gave me license to roam at will among the bright lights and heavy hitters of news and politics, but it couldn’t protect me from being out of my league. I was captured wandering aimlessly behind Chuck Todd and behind an interview with Lawrence O’Donnell, both on MSNBC, and who knows, maybe even Al Jazeera. That was me in the spotlight, losing my ambition. If you saw me picking my nose, I don’t want to know.
So, I didn’t abuse my press pass to score hardhitting interviews with national newsmakers. It was enough for me to mill about in their presence, watching, listening in. Close, but no cigar, maybe, but certainly a deep drag on a Marlboro Red.
“God, it smells great out here,” Hannity remarked, huffing up some of Boyle County’s finest air.
“Yes, it does,” Williams agreed. “It smells like a good cigar.”
And off they went, a couple of swells into the night, perhaps for a dirty martini at Mermaids or a private jet waiting in Junction City. I kind of wanted to tag along, but, alas, I¿had a story to write about Speaker’s Park and how nobody gave a damn about it. Another golden opportunity up in smoke.
Maybe I didn’t use my media creds to collect a lot of news, but I certainly used them to haul in the swag. In fact, I’m pretty sure I outswagged every media member there. I am confident about this because as the media was clearing out, I noticed a lot of unclaimed swag bags that contained, among other things, an airplane-sized bottle of Kentucky’s finest bourbon.
I figured these out-of-town journalists either had such high ethical standards as to not to partake of any gift that might influence their reporting, or maybe they had covered events like the Academy Awards, been swagged by the Academy awards, and these, sir, were no Academy Award swag bags. Neither scenario applied to me, so I grabbed six of them. You know, for the kids.
Speaking of golden-hued swag, Wednesday night’s media reception hosted by our governor was a pretty sweet, small-batch, single-barrel, fine-sipping affair. All of the state’s best distillers ringed the lobby of the Norton Center, offering up their signature spirits in generous pours into glasses emblazoned with their names.
I dabble in whiskey but am no conniusuer. I’m knowledgeable enough to know this stuff was a few shelves above my pay grade, so I felt compelled to take advantage of the opportunity to further my education, at least as much as decorum would allow. My boss was there, and I was kind of on duty, taking pictures. I tried to snap one of Judge-Executive Harold McKinney raising a glass in a toast but he pulled it back and thrust up a water bottle instead. Guess that’s still a good political move in these parts.
Back inside the media coccoon on campus early Thursday afternoon, news was hard to come by in the hours leading up to the debate.
My colleague David Brock and I watched as Joe Biden’s motorcade wheeled in behind the Norton Center. Never got a glimpse of Joe, but did see that he travels with a pretty healthy entourage.
David heard later from inside that Joe was Joe Smooth, strutting in with his aviator shades, smiling, and putting his arm around the Centre kids and bidding them, “Tell me about yourself.” We heard rumors of some pre-debate practice smirking going on as well. If we could have confirmed that we would have scooped the world.
We also were never able to confirm that the Bidens chilled out somewhere near Perryville for a couple hours prior to the big show. Eddie Montgomery’s pad? Nah, he’s probably a Republican. We heard it was Rick Dees’ place, but we never figured it out. We do know for sure that the Biden team sized up the homes of Bill Erwin and Greg Caudill on Maple Avenue, but decided to go elsewhere to avoid having to shut down that busy street. Erwin told us that himself. How’s that for sourcing out a big story?
To get inside the media enclave, your credentials were scanned, your person was wanded and your bags were thoroughly searched. If you were lucky, a dog would come over and sniff around your camera. You could leave hassle-free, but had to go through it all again to get back in.