I Take the Fifth

Dear Viewers,  

Since I promised all the behind the scenes, here is what happened last night:

I get to the set each night about 9:15p.m. so that I can get seated and we can make sure all is ready for the show at 10p.m. There are many things you must do to get a live show ready for broadcast.

Routinely, I plug in my earpiece (IFB) and listen to "Hannity and Colmes" as I "multi-task" getting ready for our show. During H and C commercial breaks, I will occasionally surf the other cable news networks, since I am curious about what the competition is doing. I have several TV monitors in the studio but get audio only from our network (unless I use the remote and turn up the sound on any monitor.)

During the lead up time to our show, among other things, I do a live tease during H and C and I also tape one. I organize and study my scripts, my research and notes, and even re-read portions of the transcripts from the Scot Peterson (search) trial, which I bring to the set. I also check certain technical things with the crew as directed.

In short, the term "multi-task" was meant to describe this time. It is very busy, and there is much going on — and, at the same time, I am listening to Hannity and Colmes directly in my ear. From time to time, to talk to and hear people in the studio, I have to turn off the audio feed from Hannity and Colmes.

Last night was no different. I arrived in the studio about 9:15p.m. and we (everyone in the studio and in the N.Y. control room) executed our usual preparation routine. About 9:50, our first DC guest, Laura Ingraham, was seated. When she sat down, I turned off my earpiece (the audio of Hannity and Colmes) so that I could greet her and talk to her. We started talking about politics (the topic of the upcoming segment in which she was the guest) and the upcoming Democratic Convention (search).

We are taking "On The Record" on the road to Boston for the convention and I learned that Laura is taking her radio show to Boston as well. I want to book Laura for our show while In Boston so I took advantage of having Laura in front of me and asked her if she would do the show while there. She agreed.

She also told me to e-mail her my cell phone number so we could be sure to connect in Boston. With all the security issues and number of people descending upon Boston, connecting with people is an expected challenge. I turned to my laptop on the set to e-mail Laura my cell phone number before I forgot.

While writing the e-mail, I heard amid the din of the studio a faint "20." At first I did not pay much attention and continued to type when suddenly it dawned on me that "20" meant we were 20 seconds from air.

I quickly looked up at the seconds clock in the studio and yes, it was almost 10 p.m. My heart sank at the "surprise."  I was not listening to Hannity and Colmes (I had turned off my earpiece) and I had totally lost track of time. I did not realize that they were winding down their show and the camera was about to be on me.

I quickly reached down under the set table and turned on the audio and heard the very last few seconds of Hannity and Colmes. What I heard was not much since it was the very end but could tell that they had been debating some point. I had no idea the topic of their debate because I had been busy "booking" Laura. Usually I am very much aware of what they are debating since I am listening.

Sean then began his "toss" to me and invited me to weigh in on their heated debate. I felt like the "deer in headlights." I had no idea what they were debating. I was lucky that I had even turned my audio on in time to catch the "toss." 

I said something like, "I take the 5th and," (I needed more than the 5th to save myself!!) I added that I wanted to "fly under the radar." Bottom line is that I was doing one task too many last night as the show started and got lucky that it came off as well as it did.

And for those of you who wonder what guests do off the set after they have had a heated debate on the air, last night Newt Gingrich and I laughed in the make up room about our heated "debate" about lawyers two weeks ago.  We agreed we needed to talk more about it and should do it again.

Greta

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Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET