I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
March 5, 2012
I have to admit that I was nervous boarding Newt Gingrich’s press bus last week.
My mission was to find out what it’s really like on the campaign trail– and as you can see in this video, my behind-the-scenes glimpse at Newt’s campaign ended up being really interesting.
But as I prepared to board the bus at 8:15 that morning, I had reservations… not about Newt or his campaign aides- I had met them all before.
I had anxiety over the reporters.
The e-mail list of bus riders contained web addresses from television networks and major newspapers. These were the people I’d be spending my day with, and I felt exactly like the new girl at school as I climbed up the stairs of the bus. Would they like me? Would they talk to me? Or would they band together like journalistic Mean Girls and ignore me altogether?
Once on the bus, I was happily surprised to be greeted with friendly curiosity. Everyone seemed to welcome having a few new faces on board and after answering their questions about CafeMom and what we were doing, I settled comfortably into my seat, chuckling at myself for being so worried.
My photographer got a few quick shots of the bus’s interior and the driver and we all chatted easily as we headed to our first stop in Dalton, Georgia. There, we went to a typical campaign rally, shot Newt’s speech, interviewed a few moms, and got back on the bus to head out for a quick lunch break. The bus parked outside a fast food restaurant and I headed out across the parking lot with a few of the other reporters. As we walked, one of them turned to me, a frown on her face.
“There’s a rumor going around,” she said, “that you all are secretly recording our conversations on the bus.”
Now anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that weird and wacky things tend to happen to me — so I try to be generally prepared for the unexpected. But I’ll be honest — I was not expecting those particular words to come out of her mouth. And so my response probably wasn’t all that comforting.
“What?” I sputtered. “What are you talking about…? What?” I was truly at a loss for words.
“Well, that’s what I’m hearing from the other reporters,” she said, “and if it’s the case, it’s not cool.”
“I would never…” I said. “I mean, you realize that CafeMom is a website for moms, right?” Her expression didn’t change. “Okay, first of all, I would never secretly tape other reporters,” I said. “I mean, I’m a reporter, too. But secondly, this is not some undercover story. It’s for a moms’ website. So secretly recording your conversations wouldn’t even make sense.”
She nodded and dropped the matter, but the tone of the day had changed. The rumor was out, and we spent the rest of the day deflecting it.
“Hey, are you guys recording people on the bus?” a campaign aide asked me quietly at the next stop.
“No,” I said forcefully. “We are not.”
“Because that’s probably not a good idea.”
“We’re not taping anyone’s conversations on the bus,” I said.
“We could make an announcement and let everyone know we’re not taping them,” my photographer said helpfully.
“Yeah,” the aide said. “Why don’t you do that?”
Once everyone was back on the bus, we were given the floor.
“The folks from CafeMom have an announcement they’d like to make,” the aide said. I stood up wearily as everyone turned around.
“We are not secretly taping you,” I said. “We are not taping your conversations. At the beginning of the day, we got a few establishing shots of the bus interior. We couldn’t hear anything you were saying. We will let you know if we want to tape anything you have to say.”
“But you won’t, like, be taping our conversations, right?” a guy a few rows down asked anxiously.
“We will not be taping your conversations,” I said again. “We are with CafeMom. Cafe. MOM. We are not interested in your private conversations.”
“You won’t be taping us, like having a smoke break, will you?” the guy asked.
“We are not interested in your smoke breaks,” I said in a monotone. “We are with CafeMom. A website for moms. Our story is not about smoke breaks. It’s about the election.”
I plopped back down, and consoled myself by imagining the story that I could have had if only I had actually made those secret recordings they were all so worried about.
“Did you pick up on that?” I’d ask in my voiceover narrative, as viewers watched my grainy undercover video. “You could clearly hear that reporter calling Rick Santorum ‘Santy.’ SANTY. Is that any way to talk about a PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE?!”
Or maybe I’d take things in another direction…
“Listen, Moms, as these reporters discuss their favorite brands of beer,” I’d continue. “Yes. BEER. The reporters on Newt’s beat have been known to drink ALKIE-HAWL after work.”
The best part, though, would come when I confronted a reporter taking a smoke break.
“Is that a cigarette between your fingers, young man?” I’d ask him sternly, holding my microphone in his face. He’d freeze, shamefaced, before attempting to stammer out an explanation. “WHAT WOULD YOUR MOTHER SAY?” I’d interrupt grimly.
Oh yes. I could have really had something shocking for the moms of America to watch.
Too bad my cover was totally blown.
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Okay. That’s messed up. And HILARIOUS! I literally LOL’d. And I never LOL. Well, I do, but I never write LOL.
Firstly, who would possibly give a crap what they are doing or saying? The candidate is the draw, not the people who are covering him. Secondly, why are they so worried about it? Hmmm?
Anyway, great story. That really is kinda off the weirdometer, even by your standards!
Thank you! I was having a hard time being nice about it after a while, because it kept coming up. I mean, how hard is it to understand the words I’M NOT TAPING YOUR CONVERSATIONS? ;D
Why on earth did they ever think that in the first place? Those are some paranoid reporters, methinks. If only you’d really been undercover, we would know what dirty secrets they’re hiding. 🙂
Ha! I think there’s still something of a disconnect between Internet reporters and old school newspaper/television reporters. There’s still this vague, hazy stigma that anything that’s going up on the Internet by definition has no journalistic standards.
And it’s a problem because. . .why? Is there a fear it might lower the tone of a policial race? Or MAYBE campaign reporters would be outed for being. . . . BIASED?
Really shaking my head here.
Oddly, if they were biased, it was FOR Newt. I talk about it in my video piece, but the reporters who had been following him for a while were very obviously attached to him, even those who worked for liberal-leaning outlets.
The footage has been destroyed!
So many secrets that will never be revealed to the moms of America…
Welcome to politics…
O…M…G. How ridiculous! “Are you taping our conversations?” “No.” “So you’re not going to tape our conversations?” “No.” “You mean you’re not going to tape our conversations?” “NO.” Good grief, how many explanations do these people need??? It’s hilarious and infuriating at the same time. LOL
If the human race couldn’t laugh at things, I really think we’d all tear each other limb to limb. 🙂
Who are these people? Why can’t they just be COOL and SMART, like you?
Silly reporters, don’t they know that mom’s don’t need recorders? EVERYONE knows that moms have eyes in the back of their heads and can read minds! What sort of pathetic mother would need a stinking tape recorder?
What. The. EFF??? Did you ask them how many of THEM have Emmys for their COMPLETELY PROFESSIONAL reporting? Because, uh, YOU DO.
[…] March, I spent a day on Newt Gingrich’s campaign bus, where I was accused of espionage by a Washington Post reporter. I am not even kidding. Crazy just follows me, people. And I followed that up by wearing a fake […]