It was nearing midnight when the men and women of the press corps finally relaxed. These
network reporters and anchors had spent the past two weeks closely following the presidential candidates of both parties. They had
listened to their speeches until they could recite them, word for word, themselves. They had reported on every sentence, cough, sneeze,
scratch, denial and retelling of boring stories of the candidates and now the network staffers could relax for a few hours.
The news people had gathered in the spacious bar of the local Marriot Hotel. The competition for news was set aside for a few hours.
These were now just men and women in the same trade, enjoying a few hours away from the stress of their jobs.
Eight of the news people sat together in a dimly lit area of the bar where they had shoved two tables together. The handsome CNN anchor
loosened his tie, took a long swig from a light beer, stretched out his legs, patted his lips with a bar napkin and said, “Did you
see him, did ya. That son of a gun reached down and scratched himself right there, in front of all the television cameras. That guy
has the class of a mule! And he wants to be our president!”
Two attractive women, both Washington reporters for CBS News and assigned to the presidential race, gave each other a sly glance.
The taller, blonder and prettier of the two raised her index finger and said, “I got one for you. That bald sumbitch in the blue suit,
you know, the one that doesn’t use deodorant, and should. Well, we were interviewing him in his hotel room a few hours ago and he
starts picking his nose, right there in front of us. It looked like his index finger disappeared into his brain. Didn’t even say excuse
me. I thought I’d puke.”
The middle aged cameraman for NBC, a short, stocky, balding veteran
of three presidential campaigns, brushed his right hand through his remaining follicles then checked his fingers to see if he had
lost any more hair. His large head tilted back as he offered a sarcastic laugh, “Ha, you guys ain’t seen nothin’. Y’know the senator
I was filming this morning. Well, I’m filming him, as our anchor is asking him the questions. All of a sudden this guy says, “Excuse
me for a moment.’ He takes off running for the bathroom, slams the door behind him and next thing we know sounds start coming out
of the bathroom like Vesuvius erupting. I swear, the walls were shaking. Then, like nothing happened, he comes back to us and says,
‘Now, where were we?’ “
At the long epoxy coated bar embedded with little metallic fish,
the handsome reporter-at-large for ABC News ordered another dry martini, leaned his well quaffed head on his hand and announced to
the beat reporter for USA Today, “After today’s debate I asked that southern Senator for a private interview. He asked me if I’d mind
if we talked over some food. He was hungry. I said sure, so we went to that hotel coffee shop around the corner. We ordered sandwiches
then I started asking him questions. When the food arrived that guy grabbed his sandwich and started eating like he was starving.
He was jamming that sandwich in his mouth and talking at the same time. Little bits of food started firing out of his mouth as he
talked and ate. It was like facing a BB gun. The bits of food were being propelled out of his mouth. I was ducking and weaving to
avoid getting hit by the food missiles. The guy would take a bite of sandwich and then talk before he swallowed. It was like having
lunch with a mortar. At the end of the interview I check the front of my shirt – it was covered with little BB’s of food. I swear,
next time I interview this guy I’m going to wear a catcher’s mask!”
Back at the bar the
attractive brunette anchor from the Fox News Network was sitting next to her producer, one of the youngest women news producers in
the business. The anchor turned to her producer and said, “The guy’s married, he has three grown children and he still kept asking
me if I wanted to have a drink with him. He put his arm around me and pulled me close to him and said, “How about a drink or two,
huh?” When I pulled away from him and politely said, “No thanks, Senator,” he said, “Oh, c’mon, let’s have a little fun, nobody’ll
find out.” “The man’s incredible horny!”
At the leather covered booth to the right of the
door to the bar four technicians from PBS sat, munching from bowls of complimentary bar peanuts and mixed crackers as they sipped
their drinks. The two men and two women were talking about the oldest of the presidential candidates. “The sad part is that the guy
used to be so sharp. Now he can’t remember anything. His staff has to rehearse him every day because he forgets so much. He keeps
repeating the same things over and over.” The PBS Washington correspondent reached for a small handful of peanuts, lightly pounded
her empty fist on the table and reported, “The guy is so out of it. Yesterday he asked me what city we were in. When I told him Los
Angeles he smiled and said, “Isn’t this the capital of California?”
As the bar closing
time neared, the aging CBS news veteran turned to his long time friend and cameraman and softly said, “It’s hard to believe that one
of these guys is going to be our next president.”
The cameraman turned towards his long
time associate, smiled, shook his head and said, “Is this a great country, or what!”
floors up, the southern Senator was watching a Barney Miller rerun on television with one of his advisors. He stuffed the last bite
of his second cheeseburger in his mouth. Little flecks of previous bites bounced off the television screen as the Senator laughed
and commented to his advisor on how much he enjoyed Barney Miller.
All around America voters
were watching the presidential debates and the Sunday morning interview programs wondering which of these impressive and sophisticated
candidates will win their vote.