Media Madness and Bizarre Booking
Occasionally I'm contacted by media organizations who want to tape an interview, usually when events occur which will impact military families. Right before the President's speech on the way forward in Iraq, I received some media requests. The aim was to come to my home, film me watching the speech and then interview me about my reaction to what was said. I have never done a television interview. Ironically, I think I would have accepted one of these invitations, but I happened to be out of town and not in Washington during the President's speech, so I was unavailable.
I farm these interviews out when possible. My husband calls me a "chicken" for doing this, and he's mostly right. When I'm contacted, it's usually because the outlet is looking for a "pro-victory" point of view and they know, obviously, that I represent that point of view. No doubt they already have the opposing view lined up. One of the reasons I'm leery of television interviews is because of ambush tactics such as those recently used against my blog mom, who was asked to appear on an ABC News show with another mother to discuss Iraq.
I arrived at the prescribed time, I put my earpiece in, got the microphone clipped to my sweater and the cord appropriately hidden. The New York producer and the director (or tech guy??) both spoke in my ear and I did the microphone test... 1, 2, 3, 4... 10, 9, 8, 7. I sat listening to the broadcasts and news feeds in my ear for a good 20 minutes, including a few on-air promos of the upcoming interview “with two military moms with their take on the President's State of the Union Address,” as well as the two lead-in interviews with two of ABC's female political reporters -- one in New York and one in D.C.
I'm thinking, Great. I have Hillary or Nancy in the other chair! Close. Turns out it was Barbara Boxer’s friend, Anne Roesler not to mention Nancy Pelosi’s darling. While there was a small legend that appeared and quickly disappeared under Ms. Roesler’s picture, turns out that Anne Roesler is no ordinary, average “military mom”, but a practiced anti-war speaker and writer -- AND HAS BEEN SINCE BEFORE THE WAR ACTUALLY BEGAN. And -- as it turns out -- not just any anti‑war speaker, but a member of Military Families Speak Out, a contributor at MichaelMoore.com… a friend of Ms Sheehan… and she’s also a spokesperson for United for Peace & Justice. She’s even been honored as a “social activist” by the Communist Party.
Last week, Gold Star Father Robert Stokely wrote of his recent encounter with the media.
MSM outlet here in Atlanta wanted to come to our house and film / interview us as the President spoke on the new Iraq initiative. But, when they pre-interviewed me with the loaded questions, such as "do you think if we had done this sooner your son would be alive.." I guess they thought I was a Sheehanite or something, because my answers led to a return phone call 20 minutes later canceling the interview. Oh, well, that is how it goes with MSM - if you aren't willing to blame someone, especially my son's commander-in-chief, then you aren't going to get heard. Our family has given a life time of love - the best we had to offer, and we may yet travel this road again as our other son is seriously considering joining the Marines. Not that we wanted to lose the first son, nor do we wish to lose another; but, if not us, then who should the service and sacrifice fall upon?
Ah, the pre-interview to determine how you'll play and what your views are. Not uncommon, not at all. Take a look at this Army wife's account of exactly the same thing.
The BBC contacted me re: a possible interview with Richard Lawson, after the Presidents speech on the new plan. They called me, and my supportive stance "was already being represented". And when I wanted to speak to them about Global terrorism, they wanted to ask me "how I could send a Husband into battle". It seems as though they were looking for a Wife that would proclaim her disdain for the military and those in power here in the U.S. So after a 30 minute phone discussion, I was pretty much (in best British accent) "just not what we are looking for".
So, recently I passed off another interview, which prompted my husband to ride me hard.
"They're going to quit asking if you keep giving your interviews away."
"So. Why do I want to be on TV? Just to be on TV? I'm not interested in that."
"To get your message out."
"That's why I always give the interview to someone I know will get the message out. Besides, I get my message out on my blog."
"You're a chicken."
I laugh. "I know, it's true, I am."
I may not be interested in doing television interviews, but I do know the value of having "our" point of view represented whenever possible. So in that respect, I always attempt to make sure this is done.
I've been reading news accounts of yesterday's anti-war protests. I've seen some photographs of rather tame signs. I'm told by someone who was there that, not surprisingly, there were a lot of completely unhinged participants. You won't see these nuts prominently featured by the mainstream media, but stay tuned, I'm confident that you'll soon see them on the web. The mainstream media would like to have us believe that they simply report the news, but many of us have found that's not the case at all. What they really want to do is to shape the news. And I have to say, they've done a masterful job.
Now, for a funny story about me and a media request:
A local TV station wanted to do a "feel good" piece on Thanksgiving. They wanted to come to the house and film our family on Thanksgiving day. It was meant to be an "I'm so glad he's home this Thanksgiving" kind of piece. A Hallmark moment.
I would be filmed cooking Thanksgiving dinner and eating it with my husband who had returned from Afghanistan a few months prior. In this case, I'm sure that the interview was going to be a non-political, fluff piece. I actually trust this producer, she's done a good job with other interviews, even one featuring a fellow milblogger. However, I didn't think we were the right family for this segment.
My husband and I don't have children. While deployment is tough on any spouse, I do feel that throwing children in the mix must make it a more difficult experience. Plus, and do I hate to admit this, BUT.... I had bought a Butterball turkey "breast," not a full Turkey. Hey, there's only two of us.... On top of that, our beloved dog was undergoing chemotherapy and had bouts of diarrhea and vomiting during that time.
So, I tell my husband, "yeah, this would be a great piece. I can see it now."
We're here this Thanksgiving with the family of a newly redeployed service member.
Camera cuts to our family, all two of us.
Andi is glad to have her husband home this holiday season.
Camera cuts to me taking a whopping two pound turkey out of the oven.
This family has much to be thankful for this season. Most of all, that they're together.
Camera cuts to us eating our extravagant turkey.
Strange sound is audible as the dog vomits all over the floor.
Ha. More like a spot on the comedy channel....
And for the record, my husband, the same one who calls me a chicken, would NEVER agree to a television interview, fluff piece or not.
Oh, then there was the time a very liberal media outlet wanted to interview me about the Iraq Study Group findings. Problem - I had not read the report. Bigger problem - I'm not a military strategist. The husband printed out the report and said, "read it" but I was slammed with another deadline and these interview requests usually come at the last minute. So, I declined once again. However, I did suggest someone else who is very smart, who had already read the report and who I had suggested for a segment on Larry King, which she did, and was brilliant.
I'm thinking of becoming a booking agent, I'm quite good at it, if I do say so myself.
I tentatively agreed to do an interview with a foreign media outlet sometime in the future. Secretly, I'm terrified, but I feel as comfortable as I can feel about television with this outlet, strangly, because they've given some of my friends a fair shake in the past. My husband made me promise not to give the next interview request away. I agreed. I probably lied.