Filling in for Bill Press – breaking news to the East Coast
I picked up some extra holiday work by filling in for Bill Press on the nationally-syndicated The Bill Press Show. He’s used to be on Crossfire and was a high-level muckety-muck in the California Democratic Party, and his show is the #1 rated morning drive time progressive talk show in the nation. He broadcasts out of Washington DC live, 6am-9am (pick up a feed from KTLK Los Angeles), which means yours truly was up at 2am Portland, Oregon time, downing Red Bull and prepping for a three-hour daily show (when I’m used to two-hours on the weekend).
Today was most amazing, as I got to interview the Rev. Barry Lynn from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I had set up the segment with various goddy stories – Huckabee’s floating cross video, Romney’s Mormon religion speech – and was directing the show toward the theme of “Religion is exerting too much influence on our politics”. I’m getting ready to go on with Rev. Lynn when my call screener texts me about the breaking news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.I had to quickly pull up the CNN page on the breaking news and break that story, live, to all the East Coast as they commuted to work and the West Coast as they got ready for work. Holy hell, now I’m a journalist, if only for reading wire stories and trying to sound authoritative. Early reports were scattered – she was injured, she was in surgery, she was dead, was it from a shooting?, was it from shrapnel? oh, geez, don’t say anything flip and be damn sure to reference the sources. This is the hometown Washington DC liberal talk show – don’t be a rube!
Then suddenly this obnoxious blaring music comes from my headphones, which means it is also going out over the air. The CNN page had one of those embedded Flash ads with sound and no controls to turn the damn thing off. Talk over it! Close the browser while maintaining professional decorum and covering the story and silently cursing the furshlugginer web designers who make noisy web pages! (Yeah, “furshlugginer”. I didn’t read MAD Magazine all those years for nothin’.) Watch the time, be sure to tease the Barry Lynn interview for next segment, oh, now it’s confirmed, she’s dead.
Facts all confirmed, time for opinion. What’s an average guy who’s never even been outside of the United States going to say about the assassination of the opposition leader a couple of weeks before an election against a military-installed dictator who just recently shut down the country, sacked the Supreme Court and suspended the constitution?
I think I cobbled together a condemnation of Bush for taking his eye off the true targets of terrorism, how Pakistan is nuclear armed and supposedly our ally but harbors Osama near its border, how Pakistan and India are both nuclear and have been warring over Kashmir for years, and how Bush has been worried about Iran’s doesn’t-exist-and-won’t-for-decades nukes when there are crazy fundamentalist jihadis in Pakistan just waiting for enough unrest to get their hands on one.
Or something like that. Fortunately tomorrow I have lots of interviews lined up, first from a senior fellow at Center for American Progress named Joseph Cirincione who knows a ton more about this stuff than I do. Then I’ve got an economics expert on the slumping economy, and in the last hour I’ve got Duane Martin Sr from the newly-seceded Lakota Indian Nation.