…and other perceptive comments from the Fifth Estate.
(More from the mcarp archives… the prophetic genius and brilliance are his;
the ones/zeros, pixels, pictures and subheads and pull-quotes are mine.)
This is the next to last of the mcarp essays, written over a decade ago by former broadcast journalist Michael Carpenter. I got his permission to share these, because they are not easy to find, and like most brutally honest musings, they deserve to be read. What he wrote about then is still true today – especially the rather bone-headed things one could hear regularly in a newsroom.
Today’s anchor/personality is placed even higher on the pedestal, because in some cases all you have to differentiate your news product from the competition is the personality involved. Brain is optional.
“Not all the stupid ideas around here are mine.”
â€” Assignment Editor
“Just because it’s not interesting to you, and it’s not interesting to anybody else, doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.”
â€” Executive Producer
“Little did he know that murder… was on the menu.”
â€” Reporter’s script, describing momentsÂ leading up to the fatal shootingÂ of a police officer in a fast food restaurant.
“You know, we really need that much-needed rain.”
â€” Anchor, responding to meteorologist’sÂ forecast of ‘much-needed rain.’
“Police say they’re having trouble cutting these protesters’ chains because they’re made out of kryptonite.”
â€” Reporter on the scene of an anti-abortion protest, where demonstrators had chained themselves to aÂ hand railingÂ with the popular brand of bicycle lock. Lex Luthor was not implicated in the subsequent investigation.
“Well, governor… what did you think of the turnout?”
â€” Question shouted from across the street at Oklahoma governor David Walters, as he emerged from a memorial service for his teenage son. Sean Walters was the victim of suicide, which the governor had blamed on intense and unfair media scrutiny.
“Listen carefully: I’m telling you we could all be called to testify about this conversation in court.”
â€” News director, in response to a reporter’s question:
“Are you telling me you want me to fabricate a source for this rumor?”
“I had a psychic dream about you last night, and it was very negative. How do you explain that?”
â€” The same news director, to a job applicant who was not hired.
“Good evening. I’m Rick Whitmire. Wait… no, I’m not.”
â€” Me. But this wasn’t my fault.Â The other guy’s name was typed in the prompter. How was I supposed to know my name if it wasn’t in the prompter?
“Well, it’s just as accurate as it was when we were going to run it last night.”
â€” Producer, arguing in favor of broadcastingÂ a report even after it was discovered to be erroneous.
“Fear is a powerful motivating tool.”
â€” Station manager, describing station’s marketing philosophy.
(originally published by Michael Carpenter, republished with permission.)
Granted, mcarp worked in a different time. Such a collection of statements could only travel as far as an email, and who wanted to spill those beans?
Publishing quotes like that online was scandalous for its day, and as you can see, the only guilty party Carpenter fingered was himself.
But how shocking would that be in an age where an anchor at a major cable network can say things like this on the air, and still be taken seriously by anyone?