Yesterday afternoon I was tending my email — a precondition for fruitful writing — after having dumped several boxes of old research with a young scholar who plans to make lemonade with it (in a metaphorical sense.) Up pops an email from MSNBC, asking me if I would like to come to New York — like now –to be on one of those political news/opinion shows. It was the Dylan Ratigan Show, hosted that day by Cenk Uyger. Cenk is normally the host of a show called “The Young Turks,” a name you probably couldn’t use in today’s climate if you were not actually Turkish, which Cenk is.
I wrote back and said perhaps I would be interested. Moments later a young feller was on the line and asked: “Can I send a car and bring you to New York now for a 4:30 air time?” Since I had come home from New York at 1:30 in the morning, and it was 103 degrees in Shoreline, I though that sitting in traffic, even in an air conditioned car was an unattractive idea. I suggested that we use a feed from Oligarch University’s studios instead. Thus it was that, at 4:20, I found myself sitting alone in front of a robot camera, an audio feed in my ear and a mike threaded inside my shirt, in a nice, cool basement downtown, ready to answer questions about the shift to the right in American political culture in the past half century.
My self-critique (other than observing that a slightly twitchy face reveals nerves I was not aware of at the time) is that I failed to pick up on it that his interest was less a shift to the right than the proposition that the media had consistently failed to report the shift to the right. Instead, I stuck to explanations of the actual political history. A format like this moves very, very fast, and you literally have microseconds to decide how you are going to respond to what is usually a leading question, how to make the link to something you have prepped, and whether you can kick out a very complex thought without context or background.
An interesting follow-up media story is the report on this very minor media event in NewsBusters. It offers up a brief clip from the show (moi cracking a joke about Nelson Rockefeller.) NewsBusters has also provided a partial transcript (identified only as a transcript) that has edited out, among other things, remarks I made about Nixon establishing OSHA in 1970 only to use this government agency to pressure business into making contributions for his 1972 campaign. Moral of the story: what you leave out can be just as important as what you include, or for that matter, any editorial content.
Let’s go to the videotape: