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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Liverpool, Leipzig Precincts Reporting In

Via the InstaPundit hive-mind we find this very amusing and informative Guardian article on the trials and travails of foreign media covering the US election.

The article begins with the gripping tale of a Sky News crew in Arizona:

The Slash U ranch near Tucson, Arizona, 4am on a grim Wednesday. It's dark, there's a 30mph wind and cold, heavy rain...Having rejected a windswept field as a possible site for their report, the five-man team from Sky have settled on a barn. This is partly to protect their kit from the rain but also because the tackroom is straight out of Bonanza, loaded with cowboy saddles, reins, crops and horse feed and the rancher is wearing a stetson...Outside, in the satellite van, Dan Williams, Sky's Washington news editor, is watching anxiously on a monitor as US correspondent Andrew Wilson mounts one of the rancher's horses ready to deliver his piece to camera.

At five minutes to live, all the power goes out but they get it back with 60 seconds to spare. Yawn. To hell with that. I want to see Andrew Wilson on the horsey. That wouldn't be, like, hokey and everything, would it? From the sophisticated European media? Naaaaah.

It's a man's life in the foreign news corps:

During the 2000 election, a reporter from a German newspaper asked Karen Hughes, Bush's senior adviser, a question. Half way through her answer, something struck her. "Who do you work for?" she asked. "A German newspaper," he began. "Then what am I wasting my time talking to you for?" she asked, somewhat rhetorically, and turned on her heel. One Kerry aide was equally specific. "To us," he told the Washington Post last week, "foreign media are about as useful as lice."

She should have said, "as useful as tits on a boar", for that colorful sound bite.

(Not long ago, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland grumbled that there were still "no votes in Leipzig", though there oughta be, by golly.)

What's more galling to international superstar anchors is how important tiny local cable stations and newspapers suddenly become...Last week, for instance, some overseas broadcasters began talks to gain access to Carl Rove, the mastermind behind the Bush campaign. He blew them off for lunch with the chief reporter of the Ohio Sentinel.

Maybe if you spelled his name right...

This just makes you weep, don't it? Imagine John Simpson brushed aside for hamburgers with Lucas McWeewiddle of the Podunk Commercial-Advertiser. Tears are running down my face as I type.

Moving on from the border ranch, the team [from Sky] hooked up with a gang of Tombstone vigilantes who head out to well-known immigrant routes, armed to the teeth. These people seem unlikely media stars. For one thing, their activities are very close to illegal.

Wow! Illegal! Not like those Iraqi "freedom fighters" and Palestinian "activists", eh?

Presented without comment:

On Monday, Woods [again of Sky] was at Love Park in Pennsylvania for Bill Clinton's appearance alongside Kerry - a bizarre spectacle in a long, thin park packed with 80-90,000 ecstatic Democrats who only had a sideways view of their idol as the stage had been rotated 90 degrees to face the media.

Here's the most harrowing part of all, when the intrepid British journos descend into the very Belly of the Beast:

...Williams and Wilson are filming in a TV evangelist's studio, asking Dr Richard Roberts about the Christian vote. "I have been preaching that we need to support a man of God who governs well," Roberts intones, whilst cynical London cameramen struggle to avoid blaspheming as they wire up their kit and drop things on their feet...The crew are slightly suspicious of Roberts when the studio manager takes them round the studio, showing off the digital editing suites. "That set up would cost several million dollars," cameraman Martin whispers. "Where's he getting the money?"

Uh, he makes it selling heroin to Queen Elizabeth? Extracts it from the pineal glands of innocent Muslim babies? Withholds it from the wages of 5,000 exquisite Balinese hookers who slave in the fleshpots of Dubuque in worship of him?

Well, probably not. I'm guessing people give it to him. Of their own free will! Shocking, I know.