GLOSSARY OF RELEVANT CAMPAIGN TRAIL VOCAB, MOSTLY COURTESY OF JIM C. AND THE NETWORK NEWS TECHS
22.5= The press corps’ shorthand for McCain’s opening remarks atTHM s (seeTHM ), which remarks are always the same and always take exactly 22½ minutes.
B-film= Innocuous little audio-free shots of McCain doing public stuff—shaking hands, signing books, getting scrummed (seeScrum ), etc.—for use behind a TV voice-over report on the day’s campaigning, as in “The reason the techs (see Tech ) have to feed (see Feed ) so much irrelevant and repetitive daily footage is that they never know what the network wants to use for B-film .”
Baggage Call= The grotesquely early A.M. time, listed on the next day’s schedule (N.B.: The last vital media-task of the day is making sure to get the next day’s schedule from Travis), when you have to get your suitcase back in the bus’s bowels and have a seat staked out and be ready to go or else you get left behind and have to try to wheedle a ride to the first THM (see THM ) from FoxNews, which is a drag in all kinds of ways.
Bundled Money= A way to get around the Federal Election Commission’s $1,000 limit for individual campaign contributions. A wealthy donor can give $1,000 for himself, then he can say that yet another $1,000 comes from his wife, and another $1,000 from his kid, and another from his Aunt Edna, etc. The Shrub ’s (see Shrub ) favorite trick is to designate CEOs and other top corporate executives as “Pioneers,” who each pledge to raise $100,000 for Bush2000—$1,000 comes from them individually, and the other 99 one-grand contributions come “voluntarily” from their employees. McCain makes a point of accepting neither bundled money nor soft money (see Soft Money ).
Cabbage (v)= To beg, divert, or outright steal food from one of the many suppertime campaign events at which McCain’s audience sits at tables and gets supper and the press corps has to stand around at the back of the room and gets nothing.
DT= Drive Time, the slots in the daily schedule set aside for caravaning from one campaign event to another.
F&F= An hour or two in the afternoon when the campaign provides downtime and anF&F Room for the press corps to file and feed (see File and Feed ).
File and Feed= What print and broadcast press, respectively, have to do every day, i.e. print reporters have to finish their daily stories and file them via fax or email to their papers, while the techs (see Tech ) and field producers have to find a satellite or Gunner (see Gunner ) and feed their film, B-film , standups (see Standup ), and anything else their bosses might want to the network HQ. (For alternate meaning of feed , seePool .)
Gunner= A portable satellite-uplink rig that the networks use tofeed on-scene from some campaign events. Gunner is the company that makes and/or rents out these rigs, which consist of a blinding white van with a boat-trailerish thing on which is an eight-foot satellite dish angled upward 40º at the southwest sky and emblazoned in fiery blue caps GUNNER GLOBAL UPLINKING FOR NEWS, NETWORKING, ENTERTAINMENT.
Head= Local or network TV correspondent (see also Talent ).
OTC= Opportunity To Crash, meaning a chance to grab a nap on the bus (placement and posture variable).
ODT= Optimistic Drive Time, which refers to the daily schedule’s nagging habit of underestimating the amount of time it takes to get from one event to another, causing the Straight Talk Express driver to speed like a maniac and to incur the rabid dislike of Jay and the Bullshit 2 driver (on the night of 9 Feb., one BS2 driver actually quit on the spot after an especially hair-rising ride from Greenville to Clemson U., and an emergency replacement driver [who wore a brown cowboy hat with two NRA pins on the brim and was so obsessed with fuel economy that he refused ever to turn on BS2’s generator, causing all BS2 press who needed working AC outlets to crowd onto BS1 and turning BS2 into a veritable moving tomb used only forOTC s] had to be flown in from Cincinnati, which is apparently the bus company’s HQ).
OTS= Opportunity To Smoke.
Pencil= A member of the Trail’s print press.
Pool (v)= Refers to occasions when, because of space restrictions or McCain2000 fiat, only one network camera-and-sound team is allowed into an event, and by convention all the other networks get to feed (meaning, in this case, pool ) that one team’s tape.
Press-Avail (or -Avail)= Brief scheduled opportunity for traveling press corps to interface as one body w/ McCain or staff High Command, often deployed for Reacts (see React ). Less formal than a Press Conference, which usually draws extra local pencils and heads and is uncancelable, whereas – Avails are often bagged because of ODTs and related snafus.
React (n)= McCain’s or McCain2000 High Command’s on-record response to a sudden major development in the campaign, usually some tactical move or allegation from the Shrub (see Shrub ).
Scrum (n)= The moving 360º ring of techs (see Tech ) and heads around a candidate as he makes his way from the Straight Talk Express into an event or vice versa; (v) to gather around a moving candidate in such a ring.
Shrub, the= GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush (also sometimes referred to as “Dubya” and/or “Bush2”).
Soft Money= The best-known way to finesse the FEC’s limit on campaign contributions. Enormous sums are here given to a certain candidate’s political party instead of to the candidate, but the party then by some strange coincidence ends up dispersing those enormous sums to exactly the candidate the donor had wanted to give to in the first place.
Standup= A head giving a remote report from some event McCain’s at.
Stick= A sound tech ’s (see Tech ) black telescoping polymer rod (full extension = 9'7") with a boom microphone at the end, used mostly for scrums and always the most distinctive visible feature thereof because of the way a fully extended stick wobbles and boings when the sound tech (which, again, see Tech ) walks with it.
Talent= A marquee network head who flies in for just one day, gets briefed by a field producer, and does a standup on the campaign, as in “We got talent coming in tomorrow, so I need to get all this B-film archived.” Recognizable talent this week includes B. Schieffer of CBS, D. Bloom of NBC, and J. Woodruff of CNN.
Tech= A TV news camera or sound technician. (N.B.: In the McCain corps this week, all the techs are male, while over 80% of the field producers are female. No reasonable explanation ever obtained.)
THM= Town Hall Meeting, McCain2000’s signature campaign event, where the22.5 is followed by an hour-long unscreened Q&A with the audience.
Twelve Monkeys, the (or 12M)= The techs ’ private code-name for the most elite and least popular pencils in the McCain press corps, who on DT s are almost always allowed into the red-intensive salon at the very back of the Straight Talk Express to interface with McCain and political consultant Mike Murphy. The 12M are a dozen marquee journalists and political-analysis guys from important papers and weeklies and news services (e.g. Copley, W. Post , W.S.J. , Newsweek , UPI, Tribune , National Review , Atlanta Constitution , etc.) and tend to be so totally identical in dress and demeanor as to be almost surreal—twelve immaculate and wrinkle-free navy-blue blazers, half-Windsored ties, pleated chinos, oxfordcloth shirts that even when the jackets come off stay 100% buttoned at collar and sleeves, Cole Haan loafers, and tortoiseshell specs they love to take off and nibble the arm of, plus always a uniform self-seriousness that reminds you of every overachieving dweeb you ever wanted to kick the ass of in school. The Twelve Monkeys never smoke or drink, and always move in a pack, and always cut to the front of every scrum and Press-Avail and line for Continental Breakfast in the hotel lobby before Baggage Call , and whenever any of them are rotated however briefly back onto Bullshit 1 they always sit together identically huffy and pigeon-toed with their attaché cases in their laps and always end up discussing incredibly esoteric books on political theory and public policy in voices that are all the exact same languid honk. The techs (who all wear old jeans and surplus-store parkas and also all tend to hang in a pack) avoid and try to pretty much ignore the Twelve Monkeys , who in turn treat the techs the way someone in an executive washroom treats the attendant. As you might already have gathered, Rolling Stone dislikes the 12M intensely, for all the above reasons, plus the fact that they’re tighter than a duck’s butt when it comes to sharing even very basic general-knowledge political information that might help somebody write a slightly better article, plus the issue of two separate occasions at late-night hotel check-ins when one or more of the Twelve Monkeys just out of nowhere turned and handed Rolling Stone their suitcases to carry, as if Rolling Stone were a bellboy or gofer instead of a hardworking journalist just like them even if he didn’t have a portable Paul Stuart steamer for his blazer.
Weasel= The weird gray fuzzy thing sound techs put over their boom mikes at scrums to keep annoying wind-noise off the audio. It looks like a large floppy mouse-colored version of a certain popular kind of fuzzy bathroom slipper. (N.B.: Weasels , which are also sometimes worn by sound techs as headgear during OTS s when it’s really cold, are thus sometimes also known as tech toupees .)