October 16, 2008

Reporting From the Media Room

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Watching the third and final presidential debate from the Media room at Hofstra University was like being in a gym lined with dozens of rows of tables spanning the length of the room, each equipped with several phones, extension cords, and high-definition televisions.
In the hours leading up to the main event, politicians and media members milled about — eating, schmoozing, and sporting their souvenir Hofstra mugs. As Bob Schieffer took the stage and said a few words to the audience — “welcome all, turn off your cell phones and shut up during the debate” — the media members scurried to their seats and began typing away.
The reaction in the room was fairly muted until the fifteenth shout-out to “Joe the plumber,” which drew a chorus of hearty laughter.
As Schieffer asked his question about running mates and readiness, sighs and moans cascaded through the room — many reporters seem to regard Sarah Palin with even more disdain than they do President Bush.
There was very little animosity toward toward McCain, however, just pity. Whether media members acknowledge it or not — most do — they see a political dead man walking. And any anger that has developed in the press corps over the McCain campaign’s campaign against the “liberal media” has given way to nostalgia for the days of yore, when the Arizona senator would shoot the breeze with them for hours on end at the back of the Straight Talk Express.