Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I have tried to stay politically neutral here, with little more success than most television news anchors. Katie Couric got progressively more giddy -- punchy may be the right word -- last night as the numbers trickled in: slowly at first and then with a sense of rushing unstoppable momentum.

In a night of superlatives, after a campaign of superlatives, after eight years of -- oh, forget neutrality: eight years of despair -- one moment stuck with me from the news coverage.

Here is historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King railed against injustice. It is election night and Barack Obama is poised to make history. The noise inside the church is almost a physical weight, a crush of joy and hope and expectations that after so long, things might change.

And here is CBS anchor Russ Mitchell, standing in the throng interviewing people, listening to Katie Couric on his earpiece, trying to provide coherent, objective, neutral reporting in this moment.

He's calm. A cool professional. Suit and tight tie, microphone and journalistic savoir faire.

But look closer. Look at the microphone in his hand. It's shaking. His hand trembles as if a thundering noise is shaking the foundations of the stone church.

And we all turn the page of the story to read more.


david said...

Those are some pretty minor edits (compared to the wholesale slaughter I do on my writing), though I like your newest version a lot better. Reading the newer one first, then your annotated version, and then the original, recalled to me how blogger Andrew Sullivan described blogs as a unique form of literature -- going BACK in time, peeling back the layers of the author's thinking, musing, digressing, correcting, false-starting and so forth.
His piece is at

S R Wood said...

David -- Thanks for the comment. Interesting point about reading these in reverse order -- that hadn't occurred to me! An archaeology of sorts. And thanks for the link to Andrew Sullivan's piece -- I'll check it out.