Skip to comments.Baghdad Bob Crashes Howell Raines Revival Meeting – NYT FREEP After Action Report
Posted on 05/14/2003 10:54:01 PM PDT by Doctor Raoul
It was a last minute decision, but I launched for NYC soon after pulling up the Drudge Report and reading the New York Times email about Wednesdays all hands meeting at the Astor Theater near Times Square.
Freeping the Old Grey Lady and then Freeping Janeane Garofolo, a Middle Age Red Lazy (i.e., commie slacker), was just too big of a target of opportunity to pass up.
Getting into Manhattan was fairly easy and I arrived at about 1:45 p.m., a half-hour before the doors were scheduled to open. Thanks to directions from the NYPD, the Astor was easy to find. When I got there, a fairly large contingent of media filled the sidewalk. They almost blocked the sidewalk. Security guards made sure that only those with New York Times ID cards gained entrance to the theater.
The Astor Theater proved a target rich environment. The NYT was definitely in a quagmire and suffered more casualties today than even they predicted for our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the look of most of the people entering, youd think it was they who were getting fired. Fear and anxiety was the uniform of the day.
As the security guards were enforcing the NYT ID required edict of the NYT email, Baghdad Bob made regular announcements to the arriving journalists. Please have your New York Times ID or Baath Party Card out for inspection. Baghdad Bob said that a lot today.
I wonder what will be on the front page of the New York Post, New York Daily News or perhaps New York Newsday given what seemed to be thousands of photos taken of Baghdad Bob.
Who is Baghdad Bob? Take your basic Rodham Hussein, uh, I mean Saddam Hussein mask, camouflage uniform shirt with red and yellow shoulder boards with stars and peace symbols as the insignia of rank, add some thick black eyeglass frames and an oversized Hello, My Name Is ..Baghdad Bob sticker on the chest and you have Baghdad Bob.
In fact, New Yorkers who are frequently described as standoffish were more than willing to assist Baghdad Bob with getting his uniform right. One lady helped pin the Hello My Name Is badge as others fixed a fallen shoulder board.
It one point, a male reporter with a TV crew asked if I could hold down my announcements if he were lucky enough to snag an interview. Baghdad Bob asked, Who you shooting for? and the guy says, CNN. So I say, Baghdad Bob would be happy to extend the professional courtesy, after all, weve worked together so many times before.
The crew laughs, so Baghdad Bob asks, Can you put in a good word in for me with Eason Jordan? and they laugh again.
Off and on, Baghdad Bob made his case for employment/re-employment with the NYT. Hey come on, Adam Clymer a draft pick and Im yours, come on make the deal was one argument voiced.
Every once and awhile Baghdad Bob would remark that perhaps he should have taken CNNs offer rather than the New York Times because it probably had more job security.
We upped the anti with Tell you what, Adam Clymer, a draft pick, a reporter to be named later and well take Paul Krugman off your hands, whadda you say? Some how the well take Paul Krugman off your hands comment got a lot of laughs from the NYTers.
At this point, for the record, Id like to personally thank the FOX News NYC Assignment Desk for their fine selection of a reporter for this event. Youd never think women that good looking could be so funny.
Anyway, as far as signs go, for the longest time I only used one, Former New York Time Reporter WILL LIE FOR FOOD.
After it became painfully obvious to both myself and the media that they werent going to get anything in the form of an interview there on the sidewalk, I added to the back, Howell Raines Code of OMERTA.
Baghdad Bob got a lot of attention from the teens lined up for MTV. That wrapped around the block to the Astor. A bevy of really good looking babes, a group of rappers and some others took pictures of themselves and ole Baghdad.
One group even got into the act after being recruited. It was a take off on a 12 step meeting, like an AA meeting. Thats where someone introduces themselves, confesses their addiction and then the group says, Hello.
So Baghdad Bob shouts out, My name is Howell Raines, and Im a liar, at which point the teens joined in with Hi Howell.
We did that a couple of times when the NYT herd bunched up at the door. The teens were very enthusiastic about their part.
A one point, I can tell the media is looking past me, so I turn around. Down the sidewalk from Times Square is a guy is a full fledged clown outfit, big yellow shoes and all. At first I figure Ive got competition, could this be Lucianne.com?
So the guy strides right up to me and asks as if he was just wearing a three piece and says, Whats going on? I explain it the NYT meeting between management and reporters over the scandal and says, What scandal?
I look across the way and the FOX reporter is looking puzzled at the two of us and I shout over, Hes with me ..he wants to be an Times editor and she cracks up.
I few words of background on the NYT scandal and Mister Clown continues his commute.
In hindsight, I figured out that hes probably a regular street theater actor on Times Square and has enough professional instincts than to dress and undress in character before his audience.
I didnt need a bodyguard, but I could have used an extra sign maker. We could have recruited Mister Clown if we could have made a I Want To Be A NYT Editor sign. Or I could have used a few more signs like, NYT IN A QUAGMIRE or such.
Baghdad Bob made a recurring public service announcement:
Howell Raines has lost his dog.
It answers to the name Quagmire.
If you find Quagmire, please send him to the front office.
They have been looking for Quagmire since Afghanistan.
With regret he also announced:
Sorry, but this years Christmas Party at the Al-Rashid has been cancelled.
Sometimes a female would catch his eye and the question would be asked,
Didnt I see you at last years Christmas Party at the Al-Rashid?
A reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer came over and introduced himself and his paper. Baghdad Bob replied, Philadelphia Inquirer, .hey I used to date Jane Eisner. Jane Eisner was the editorial page editor who did a quarter page Sunday paper op-ed on how high heels oppress women the same day she gave one and a half column inches to a weak story on the Juanita Broaddrick allegations against Bill Clinton. Baghdad Bob also remarked that Jane was a little frigid so the relationship didnt last long. The answer to Who are you and why are you here? was answered, Baghdad Bob and Im here to support my New York Times comrades.
Props to the two New York Post reporters who at least tried to sneak into the meeting. At least they didnt accept milling about on the sidewalk going baahhh, baahhh, baahhh like the rest of the media sheep. Both were caught and escorted out, but you gotta like reporters with balls, even those that carry a purse. At least she enjoyed the trying to get the story.
A gentleman who later identified himself as a pressman with the Times and Baghdad Bob had a long conversation. The most interesting part of that conversation is how those in the NYTs printing operation were not informed of this meeting and only learned about it from the PageSix column in the New York Post. Most guys in the pressroom dont read their own paper, he explained. They read the Post or the Daily News he added.
As they NYT crew exited, their choice of direction was duly noted. If they went left, it was, Notice how the New York Times instinctively turns left.
If they turned right, it was, Hey guys, youre the New York Times, youre supposed to go left. Most that did turn right at least leaned left before doing so, I kid you not.
One guy took issue with my Notice how the Times people instinctively turn left joke. He got fired up about William Safire being at the Times and how could I say that. I ignored him while tourists laughed at him. I should have said, To fight this war, we dropped Special Forces behind enemy lines in Kabul, Baghdad and Times Square. Safire was the first of those to parachute in.
One thing for sure, 99.99% of the NYT folks honored Howell Raines Code of OMERTA. About five stopped for 20 seconds and one for a little more. I doubt they got any film they could use.
At one point, the media scrum ran, I mean RAN into garage entrance, but seconds later they returned..
At one point a photographer asked me to move so hed have a better angle of me for his photo. I declined to move for two reasons. First, I figured my present position, just 6 feet from the door, would put me in many photos of them arriving or leaving. Second I wasnt giving up my view of good looking red head photographer across the way. I now understand why Charlie Brown was hung up about the little red headed girl.
A few other announcements:
The bad news is Al-Jazera just bought the New York Times
The good news is your editorial policies will not change.
Sometimes people passing would ask whats going on with all the media and Id either tell them that Al-Jazera just bought the New York Times or that the New York Times and Al-Jazera were holding merger talks. It says something about the New York Times reputation that NO ONE questioned either of those explanations.
Baghdad Bob did not ignore his own journalist responsibilities and announced twice to the assembled media that tomorrow would see another demonstration in front of the New York Times Washington DC bureau and that it was sponsored by the DC Chapter of FreeRepublic.com and Accuracy in Media. In fact, AIMs phone number was given out via megaphone.
All in all it was a good Freep. All I had to do was extend the big cartoon hand glove (thumb and 3 fingers ala Mickey Mouse and Peter Jennings) and say, Hi, Baghdad Bob, pleased to meet you
. They would read the sign, make the connection to the NYT and laugh their asses off.
|Wed May 14, 6:26 PM ET|
New York Times staff members display their identification cards as they arrive for a meeting with the paper's senior editors in New York Wednesday, May 14, 2003. The town hall-style meeting was called to discuss the paper's handling of former Times reporter Jayson Blair, who was found to have plagiarized or fabricated material in at least three dozen articles. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
I wonder how many nyt employees are going to quit after this meeting.
I did however purchase the CENTCOM deck of playing cards from a street vendor around the corner. All of $5.
There was a guy on the corner of 44th and Broadway with a large neon sign on a stick so it stood out over crowd. It read, "Greatest Pick Up Lines $1".
I said, the World's Greatest Pick Up Line was, "Hey baby, I'm Bill Clinton. How would you like to have lunch with the leader of the free world?"
He laughed and agreed that it was the World's Greatest Pick Up Line.
None. For sure, Howell Raines said he's not quiting.
You're absloutely right that ridicule works.
Angelwood's campaign of sending "puff balls" to Blitzer had an effect on his balance during that period of time.
Of course, he backslid a little in the meantime.
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