In the Belly of the Beast

I passed Bret Baier in the makeup room at the Fox News studio in Washington. He looked all pasty. Didn’t have a chance to ask him about that whole Election Night drama.

I was on the way to looking just as pasty.  I had been contacted by Sky News in DC to comment on one of the biggest news stories of the day.

“Floods in the north [of England], the exhuming of Yasir Arafat and this,” said the correspondent interviewing me, running down the big news in U.K. Tuesday.

“This” was the Angus T. Jones story – the star of “Two and a Half Men” who, with a newfound religion, urged people not to watch that show. There seemed to be a sufficient lack of TV critics in D.C. this morning enough to have them call me for comment and send a car.

Unaccustomed as I am to such treatment, I took them up on it. I knew Sky News was a Murdoch Operation and should have figured that their D.C. office — four people in all — was on the same floor of the building near the Capitol housing Fox News.

So up in the green room I was sat next to an elder Donald Rumsfeld-type awaiting his call to Fox News. He was reading the Washington Post and a little prickly when some production assistant didn’t know who he was. So I didn’t ask either.
“Do you have makeup?” a woman called out to me.

“No, I look this good all the time,” I deadpanned. Actually I needed all the makeup I could get. This was an area obviously new to me. I didn’t know I was supposed to have it all removed before I left, either. If it helped, I thought maybe I should leave it on. There was a big discussion about this.

It was almost as long as the interview itself, conducted in production room slightly larger than a closet, where a picture of Angus was on a monitor over my shoulder as I blathered on about what it all meant, a big diffuse light shining on me, the questions coming in from the dark. As I went along sweat formed on my upper lip, not from the workload but the light, I reasoned. Suddenly I was Nixon.

It was over pretty soon; somewhere across an ocean, I was part of the Sky News nightly summary of world news.

As I got the free ride back up Rock Creek Park, I mused on my teensy role in the Murdoch news and infotainment machine. And it asks the question you might occasionally wonder: Where do they get these talking heads? (In this case, from behind a computer in his basement).

The worst part of it all was turning on Fox News when I got home to find out who that Rumsfeld-looking guy was. I never did find out, but I certainly was reminded how completely it  was a GOP Talking Points delivery system posing as a news network. And I went back to the basement.
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