Apparently the producer in New York was sweating it out in our show last night just before our B block segment began... which is about 10:12 p.m. Eastern. No one told me at the time that we had a problem, but when our show started at 10 p.m., our guest for that segment, General Wesley Clark (search), had not arrived and was not seated. I fear the day that I am sitting there alone with no guest looking stupid into the camera for a six-minute segment. I assume sometime that will occur since no one has perfect luck.
During the break between the A and the B blocks and with seconds to go before the B block was to begin, my producer said, "General Clark is here and being seated." I could tell her sense of relief. I inquired what was going on and learned that the guest was late. I suppose we could always ask another guest to stay for an additional segment if a guest fails to show, but we had just interviewed former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (search) (Republican) and I want to make sure we also have a Democrat since we are so close to the election. It's called: fair and balanced.
If you notice, our show has been doing this to an almost mathematical certainty in the weeks leading up to the election. We give equal time and attempt to get guests with equal stature or experience. To the extent we don't get a guest of equal stature or experience, blame the campaigns because we call and call and call and call. When we conduct our interviews, we even try to ask parallel or similar questions. With an election so important, we are doing our best to be fair. Of course -- there is no such thing as perfection and there will always be critics.
General Clark was not the only one with a time problem. When I walked back into the bureau after grabbing some carryout about 7:45 p.m., I learned that we had to pre-tape the interview with Senator Thompson. He had a schedule conflict with his "Law & Order" acting job that we learned about late (or at least I learned about late.) So at 9:15 p.m. we taped his interview, which we then rolled into our show at about 10:15 p.m.
Incidentally, I don't know why General Clark was late. Usually guests are late because of car service. We send cars for our guests and it is not unusual for traffic to create a problem or even for the car service to have a hard time finding the remote location.
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