John McCaslin

Stewards of the Fourth Estate caution against it: one reporter after another, newspaper and broadcast, being called upon to plaster makeup on their faces, go in front of the camera, and offer opinions — and often biases — surrounding the news of the day.

Whether it's opining on the impact of John Edwards' new mistress or John McCain's old age, flip on any of the 24-hour cable news channels — CNN, MSNBC or Fox — and you'll see that reporters are increasingly interviewing reporters.

When did this popular trend of broadcast "news" begin?

We turn to the popular 1995 memoir of the late TV news pioneer David Brinkley, who recalled the day in November 1969 when Richard M. Nixon delivered perhaps his most historic address on Vietnam.

"He went on the television networks saying he had agreed with the South Vietnamese on 'an orderly schedule for complete withdrawal of American forces from the war.' His speech was carried live on ABC, CBS and NBC," wrote Mr. Brinkley.

"Since he spoke longer than expected, he spilled over into the networks' next half-hour time period. Since network time is always divided into blocks of half hours and hours, this meant the network had to fill whatever part of the half hour Nixon left."

With no time to spare, but with some hesitation, Mr. Brinkley quickly assembled "a few of our own correspondents and an outsider or two to discuss the speech the audience had just heard. On this night, following Nixon, I and a few others got the unpleasant duty to discuss his speech until the beginning of the next hour.

"I can remember nothing of it now and no transcript exists," he continued. "Nobody, including us, really liked filling time this way, but no one knew any alternative. How else on short notice, or no notice, could we fill network airtime? Organ music?"


It's not your grandfather's "Grand Old Party" convention anymore. It's not even your father's.

To reach a new generation of party faithful, the Republican National Convention has established "social network" sites on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.


In reality, it is the residents of Denver who are hosting the Democratic National Convention.

So it's understandable that the "locals," as they're being called by convention organizers, have been standing in line by the tens of thousands requesting seats for Barack Obama's much-anticipated acceptance speech. And to the Democratic Party's credit, many of them have not been turned away.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.