August 02, 2003
Don't be at work when opportunity calls

When I got home from work yesterday, there was a message on my answering machine that I had to listen to three times before I was sure I heard it correctly. The caller was a woman who said she was with the FOX News Channel's show Your World with Neil Cavuto, and she wanted to know if I would appear on the air to discuss whether or not President Bush should be taking a month-long vacation at his ranch right now.

No, really. I'm serious.

The message had been left at about 9 AM, and it was after 4 PM when I came home, so I was pretty sure it was too late, but I called the number anyway and spoke to the woman. Indeed, I discovered, I had missed my chance. The show airs at 4 PM Eastern time, so it was just finishing when I called back. They wanted a pro-vacation and an anti-vacation person, and since I was unavailable, they settled for David Corn, who writes for The Nation, instead.

I had one very important question for them: How in the world did they find me? She didn't remember exactly, but said she'd seen me "quoted" somewhere. I asked her if she realized that I was just some weblogger and not someone that anyone had ever heard of. She didn't seem to think that was a big deal - in fact, she said they'd try me again the next time something in "my field" came up. I thanked her and said good-bye.

If they do call me again - and if they call on Fridays, there's a 50-50 chance I'll be at home - I'm not sure if I'll take them up on this. I'd feel like a fraud, an impostor. I read the newspapers and I have opinions. I have no real qualifications. I mean, I know that that doesn't stop 90% of the existing professional media pundits. I feel like I'd just be adding to the problem.

On the other had, well, how many people get this opportunity? Maybe I'd be good at it. Maybe I'd hate myself for not trying. And didn't I read somewhere the idea that bloggers could be a professional punditry farm system? Someone's got to be a pioneer.

What do you think? Should I go for it if they call again?

UPDATE: Among the many go-for-it comments, Steve Smith asks an obvious question: "BTW, what is your opinion on Bush taking a vacation?" And the answer is...well, I don't really care one way or the other. Not that I would have said anything like that on TV, mind you. In true pundit style, I would have covered for the fact that I have nothing of value to say by making snarky comments about it - you know, like "I have to say, Neil, speaking from Houston where it's a balmy 96 degrees today, I'd seriously question the sanity of anyone who'd choose to spend the month of August in Crawford. And what's up with all this brush-clearing? How much brush does one ranch have to clear, anyway? Does he have it trucked in at night so he'll have something to do the next day?" You can see why I'm not quite ready to give up my day job just yet.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 02, 2003 to TV and movies | TrackBack

Just pray that they don't have you mixed up with another millionaire Chuck Kuffner and are trying to find a way to piss on your rug.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on August 2, 2003 1:58 PM

I say you should go for it. You're as least as articulate as a lot of the talking heads I see on TV on the rare occasions I watch it.

Although I'd watch out for those Fox people. Some of them are rabid.

Posted by: Ginger on August 2, 2003 2:03 PM

Do it!

Why shouldn't a "regular" person get to comment on the news? What makes these "experts" so expert?

You have seen this show though, haven't you? He's pretty opionated, and his opinons aren't yours.

Posted by: Rob Booth (Slightly Rough) on August 2, 2003 5:17 PM

You really ought to accept...a blogger is just a poor man's pundit.

Posted by: Lavoisier1794 on August 2, 2003 5:34 PM

Go for it, Chuck! I mean, just 'cause I'd be sick from stage fright if I were asked doesn't mean you should be.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on August 2, 2003 5:57 PM


If they give you another chance tomorrow, say Yes, and if you are asked whether Bush ought to be going on vacation at this time, the correct answer is: "Of course not- there are WMD's to be found !"

Posted by: peter jung on August 2, 2003 7:04 PM

Do it! You're more literate than most of the yo-yos you'd be going up against.

Plus, the best part? As you said, you are "just some weblogger" so you don't have to make nice with them. Just like calling into O'Reilly except you can't be hung up on.

Posted by: Charles M on August 2, 2003 7:51 PM

Say what you want about Fox News, but at least they present one view from each side:

"They wanted a pro-vacation and an anti-vacation person, and since I was unavailable, they settled for David Corn, who writes for The Nation, instead."

Charles, we think you should go for it next time. You'll discover very quickly whether it's something you are a natural for or never want to do again. You might surprise yourself.

Posted by: TalkLeft on August 2, 2003 8:11 PM

Go for it. What have you got to lose?

Posted by: natasha on August 2, 2003 8:53 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the encouragement. We'll see if they call back!

Rob, to answer your question, I haven't actually ever seen the show, but I'm not surprised to hear what you say. Frankly, I'd have been pretty surprised if it had been any other way.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 2, 2003 9:07 PM

God dang it Charles, as king of the media whores I command you to do it.

Posted by: Oliver on August 2, 2003 9:45 PM


If they call back, then by all means go for it! You have a lot more to offer than most of the talking heads on cable TV today. Besides, how often does Fox News Channel present an admitted left-of center Democrat's point of view?

Posted by: William Hughes on August 2, 2003 10:24 PM

Jebus, Chuckles! How can you possibly consider saying NO? Your politics suck bilge water, but I'll take a smart half-Texan over another damn Coaster any day.

And don't forget this: if you do go ahead and say no, you're screwing the pooch for thousands of other bloggers. Me, I'm still waiting for my call to appear on the Ranch Report, aired 4-6am on rural 300-watt AM stations.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on August 2, 2003 11:15 PM

You shoulda done it. FOX News has a tendency to try and get articulate seemingly normal conservatives to face off against some crazy socialists or something. You would have thrown them a little surprise, I'm sure. I'm surprised that if they had come across you via your blog that they wouldn't email you or something. Weird. Anyway, good luck in getting another chance. I'd love to see you kick some ass.

Posted by: ByronUT on August 2, 2003 11:20 PM

Charles, I'd say, "Do it in a Texas minute!" Except I didn't take my own advice the one time a media personage called me. Of course, it was only some wingnut radio talk show host from Waco, who somehow had gotten hold of one of my posts. But Faux is the ultimate platform, and you are the ultimate spokesperson... if you get another chance, go for it!

Posted by: Steve Bates on August 3, 2003 12:58 AM

1. Definitely do it. You can't come across worse than 92% of the alleged pundits.
2. Call her back and point out that you're a local expert on the redistricting issue and offer up your expertise (maybe you and Rob Booth could debate the issue on air).

Posted by: Angry Bear on August 3, 2003 2:06 AM

Next time, go do it. Jeralyn Merritt's right -- you'll find out quickly if the talk show circuit is something you want to continue to do. If you aren't familiar with the show that calls, check its web site. This is the first time I've looked at your blog, and it's clear to me that you can definitely hold your own in a debate. Plus, you're polite and articulate. In the world of barking heads, that counts for something.

A few years ago, I was asked to be a guest panelist on "The Full Nelson" (its first show) and Paula Zahn's show, but I turned both down. Being fairly new, I was too nervous. Besides, I'm always afraid these shows will devolve into a Jerry Springeresque free-for-all.

I agree with Angry Bear - call her back. it's always good to establish a working relationship with members of the media.

Posted by: Trish Wilson on August 3, 2003 7:04 AM

Of course you should accept. Silly wabbit....

You are no more or less credible or serious than anyone else getting face time on FNC. The only difference at this point is that most pundits get paid for their opinions. On top of that, you're far more intellectually agile than most of the trolls on FNC. This could be fun....

Now I'll be able to say "I knew him back when...." ;0)

Posted by: Jack Cluth on August 3, 2003 7:23 AM

Do it - I love seeing people I know (or know of) on tv!

Posted by: hope on August 3, 2003 9:11 AM

What a strange coincidence. I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard Michael J. Lewis talking about his book Moneyball. Doug and I commented that his voice and language sounded like yours, and since baseball was at one time one of your favorite topics, I thought of you also. It wouldn't surprise us much to someday hear your voice on the radio or TV. I think you should do it for a few reasons. First, as I've told you before, you are one of the most articulate and entertaining speakers I know. Second, you are knowledgeable about many subjects and have well grounded opinions. Finally, you aren't afraid to say when you don't know something. Go for it!

Posted by: Angela H. on August 3, 2003 9:43 AM

Dear Charles: I was asked to do a sport on KGB channel 8 on a search/seizure case before the Supreme Court. I agreed and with my best "suit" gave what I thought was a credible review of what the Court would do ( I was wrong however). But never mind, what ended up on the cutting room floor was what should have been run. What did appear was so short as to be stilted. I was mad as hell. But if asked I would do it again. Go for it; think before you answer and nail it! Too bad you are not a registered Republican, but we love you anyway.

Posted by: Dud on August 3, 2003 12:21 PM

I'd do it, if only to plug the website, spreading the word to the Freepers and Dittoheads. BTW, what is your opinion on Bush taking a vacation?

Posted by: Steve Smith on August 3, 2003 1:04 PM

I agree with what seems to be the consensus that you should go for it. And if they ask you about Bush spending a month in Waco, my recommended answer would be, "Why just a month. He should stazy here for the next few years. He might actually meet some of those ordinary people he claims to represent, and it's not as if he's been doing anything useful in Washington."

Posted by: Alex on August 3, 2003 8:12 PM

I'll join the chorus and encourage you to accept the next offer. Here's my media training tip for you. Whatever they ask, give them a pithy sound bite, relevant or not. Humor is good. Your answer about brush clearing, edited for brevity, could have been great. Commenting on the animal-less ranch might have been amusing as well. They'll only bring you back if you are entertaining and give the host a chance to hit a few softballs. Earnestness doesn't work, and neither do thoughtful, detailed answers. As for your lack of credentials, cricial readership and success in the blogosphere has to be at least the equal of a writing gig at a major newspaper. Less dough, but your audience is always a mouse click away from ditching you. You must be doing something right.

Posted by: Dave Roberts on August 4, 2003 3:06 AM

Can we start a movement here to call Bush's "ranch" by its proper name - and by that I mean the name it was referred to by locals up until W bought it back in 1998 - and that's "pig farm." Seriously, my father's family is from the area (McGregor, the big town of 4500 down the road from Crawford) - and before the purchase it was known as the Zacharias pig farm (I'll check on the name - but the swine part is straight up true).

Posted by: Chris Weiss on August 4, 2003 7:53 AM