Oh, Never Mind
(Editor's note. Our media columnist disappeared at approximately 6 p.m. on election night. At 7 p.m., we declared him dead. A few hours later, we received word he was not dead. We rescinded our declaration. By 2 a.m., we were tired and annoyed, so we declared him dead again. But we weren't, you know, really sure about that either. Miraculously, the morning after he disappeared, we received the following e-mail message from said columnist...)
To: Dallas Observer
Re: My trip down the rabbit hole
Sorry for the attached JPEGs, but I've commandeered this e-mail address to inform you of my whereabouts, and those pictures are sent automatically by this server. (Hey, Wilonsky, recognize the redhead?!?!)
Last Tuesday evening, I went home to begin taking notes for an election/media column. You know, mock the local and national TV anchors, make fun of Belo, praise my friends--the usual. In preparation, I tried to use my CueCat to scan the barcodes found on the necks of prominent Dallas-area Republicans, such as KXAS-TV anchorman Mike Snyder and Mayor Ron Kirk, to see what Web sites they were linked to. Unfortunately, I kept receiving an error message. I tried to boost the CueCat's power using a 295-amp Marquette arc welder with greaseless shunt lubrication, an infrared phototachometer, and duct tape. I succeeded too well. For when I replugged it into my computer, something went horribly wrong. The CueCat glowed red, laughed in an evil catlike manner, and shot a ray from its CueMouth. That's when I was sucked into the Internet.
Fortunately, this made gathering information for my column easy, since I could observe what was going on from any computer in the world connected to the Net. Here's my report:
According to the atomic clock found at www.time.gov, it's about 7 p.m. on election night. This is weird. I'm looking up at crazy-ass CBS anchor Dan Rather from the computer on his desk. Here's what he says: "Let's get one thing straight right from the get-go. We would rather be last in reporting a return than to be wrong. If we say somebody has carried a state, you can pretty much take it to the bank, book it that that's true." Sweet...
Good grief, the traffic on the Net is out of control. CNN and a buncha Web sites have just declared Al Gore the winner in Florida. You would not believe the number of journalists high-fiving each other in newsrooms across the country. Not at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, though. I'm reading a memo in a news editor's machine that told everyone not to cheer and not to wear campaign buttons or T-shirts because Channel 11 will be broadcasting from the newsroom all evening. Now that's synergy...
Just did a quick drive-by of the computer of Dallas Morning News Publisher Burl Osborne, who's wearing a "George Bush '00" button. He's crying for some reason...
OK, popped into the laptop of Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News. He's hanging outside the guv's mansion in Austin, freezing his butt off. He just told his editor, "You know, we've got to write a story first that's a little more negative in tone, anticipating a Bush defeat after the Florida call." His editor told Slater that would be fine, except that, since the Morning News wants favored-paper status with the new prez, it's possible that Slater will be executed for writing that. Slater's a trouper, though. He types on...
Uh, folks, I've just checked out the Florida election Web site, and something looks funny here...
Wow, all the networks and cable outlets are taking Florida back from Gore. Now, Wayne Slater is deleting half his story and starting over. I think he's crying. Over at Channel 4, Clarice Tinsley is telling everyone this wouldn't happen if she ran the network...
Snapping turtles? Frogs with pockets? What the hell is Dan Rather talking about? I'm heading back to Texas...
Checking out the set at Channel 11. It's about midnight, and political analyst Lee "Mr. Ed" Cullum just made this astute observation: "I think we can say it's almost too close to call." Gee, ya think so, Lee? Bob Ray Sanders just tried to walk off the set to work on his Star-Telegram column, but the TV folks told him he needed to stay put. He looks pretty freaked out. Now that's synergy...
Why don't we have a president yet? I'm bored. Oh, yeah. The Internet. Porn. I'll be back...
Oh, cool, I just intercepted an e-mail from Matt Drudge to Linda Tripp. It reads, in part, "Jeez, Linda, you gotta give me another scoop! My career's in the tank here! Is Monica in Florida by any chance?"...
Holy macaroni, all the TV networks just called it for Bush. I've never seen Burl so happy. The Morning News and the Star-Telegram are printing their "Bush Wins" headlines. Dale Hansen wanders in front of a computer at Channel 8 yelling, "I mean, is this really as important to viewers as Nebraska vs. K-State? I mean, seriously. Omigosh." Meanwhile, some annoying worrywart editor in the Star-Telegram newsroom named John Silva keeps saying, "Uh, guys, The Associated Press hasn't called a winner yet. Maybe we should wait..." Party pooper. Folks in Fort Worth need their beauty sleep. The election is over, go home. What could happen?...
Uh, just breezed by that Florida election Web site again, and, uh, well...
Good grief, I don't think it's over yet. At the Morning News, they're saying the same thing. Denise Beeber, an assistant news editor, is on the phone with the Plano printing plant's forewoman. She asks Beeber, "Do you want me to stop the presses?" THIS IS IT! She actually gets to say it, to yell into the phone the one phrase every journalist longs to scream: "Yes, stop the presses!"
"Yeah, I guess you'd better," she says.
Well, close enough. In all, the News printed about 140,000 papers with some version of "Bush wins," but was able to trash all but a few thousand of them. Let's see if the Star-Telegram got so lucky...
Hello...anyone here? Newsroom looks kinda empty...
Quick check on our favorite Texan, Dan Rather. He just announced that they took back Florida for a second time. He looks as mad as a snapping turtle.
Unbelievable. During a commercial break, I peeked in on Chris Matthews at MSNBC. He actually took off his head for refueling. Apparently, MSNBC hires aliens. Which would explain Ashleigh Banfield.
It's 4 a.m., and everyone is giving up. Bad day for the media, local and national. Given my new CueCat-granted powers, it looks as though it'll be up to me to straighten out this election mess. My first step in that process: I'm heading over to www.askjeeves.com to type in the question, "What the hell is a 'chad'?"
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