August 31, 2004 | 11:59 p.m. ET

Spreading the word about MSNBC (Dominic Bellone, Hardball producer and newsletter editor)

Brand Marketers
The MSNBC street team in Times Square.

By the way folks, if you're out and about this weekend in Midtown you may have noticed some peculiar folks wearing T-shirts with actual TVs attached to them playing MSNBC commercials.  I understand there was even a few hanging around Herald Square last night, and Times Square tonight.

Don't be alarmed. Call it "gonzo marketing" this unique publicity tool is the brainchild of Adam Hollander of Brand Marketers. The t-shirt TVs are playing an eleven minute "best of" MSNBC commercials on a loop.  We've hired Adam and his team of ten (5 with TVs, 5 with MSNBC T-Shirts) to hang out at strategically located points near Herald Square and The Garden, hand out MSNBC swag, and direct people to our live set. 

They are promoting our "uncoventional convention" coverage.  They're on duty Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m. ET to 1 a.m. ET so keep an eye out for them. (And while you're at it, spread the word about MSNBC too!)

August 31, 2004 | 9:10 p.m. ET

Totally casual observations from the first couple of days of coverage (Chris Jansing)

I live in New York but I never cease to be amazed at how blase New Yorkers are about events, big and small.  The only real emotion I got was Saturday night from a cabbie, who complained that everyone was leaving town to avoid the crush.  It's August, people ALWAYS leave town.  Which leaves all the good restaurants available for delegates— but there are so many parties, so much free food everywhere, why buy?  You've heard of Atkins and Zone?  Tammy Haddad— Matthews' executive producer— and I agree that the MSNBC Convention diet is sugar and caffeine.  

The confiscation policy is tighter here than in Boston.  My producer, Martha, got a brand new bottle of makeup taken because it was glass.  There's no way more vicious to treat a woman than to take away her makeup when she's working on 3 -4 hours sleep a night.  In Boston, the rule was no aersol cans, so I brought a pump spray.  They took those, too.  Not sure who I'm more angry with—the security folks, or myself, for paying $9 for a travel size bottle of designer hairspray. 

Reasons I LOVE the week so far:

  1. I'm staying in my own apartment for 12 straight nights, the most THIS YEAR since I began travelling to battleground states in January.
  2. See #1
  3. Tom Brokaw said to Tim Russert that HAWAII is now moving to the swing state column.  Which means that as the Battleground America correspondent, I feel a journalistic duty to see what all the buzzzzz is about.  My boss doesn't necessarily agree. And thus:  AN APPEAL TO ALL BLOGGERS.

Respond to this site, attention Rick Kaplan, President of MSNBC, that you, our viewers, would like to see a Battleground America report from Maui.  After almost 9 months of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Missouri and New Mexico— fast food and seldom sleeping in my own bed— it's time for a little payback!  Vote for Hawaii! 

My profound thanks....

E-mail Chris at Watch Chris Jansing as she covers the Republican National Convention, 2-4 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.

August 31, 2004 | 7:32 p.m. ET

DNC's Rapid Response center (Felix Schein, campaign reporter)

That the Republicans are in town is well-known. But that the Democrats here as well might surprise you, and no, they aren't all protestors.

The Democratic National Committee has set up shop not too far from The Garden, on the 15th floor of a small office building with a banner on the outside that says "Defeat Bush."

Inside the workspace, about thirty offices and rooms in all, there are at least 100 staffers of all types watching the speeches from Madison Square Garden on television and feverishly typing and mailing counter-points to what they hear to various reporters.

Called "Rapid Response," this work helps ensure at least some of the stories being writen here include the Democrat's perspective. The RNC did the same thing in Boston, calling their effort "Extreme Makeover" while the Democrats are operating under the "Mission Not Accomplished" banner.

In addition to the many staffers, some of whom worked for Trippi on the Dean campaign (or for the Clark or Lieberman campaigns), there is also a television studio and a radio production booth in the building, all of it set up just for this event. It goes to show how much these campaigns are willing to invest to get their message to voters like you.

August 31, 2004 | 5:12 p.m. ET

A sunnier message today (Andrea Mitchell)

The sun came out in New York today, making all the orange security fencing and other obstacles a little more tolerable (Question: How would you KNOW the sun came out buried in the bowels of Madison Square Garden?) 

Team Bush is also projecting a sunnier message after last night's slashing attack on John Kerry by designated hitman Rudy Giuliani. For all those swept away by Rudy's evocative recreation of our post 9/11 angst, I got a reality check during a late-night run in with a top Bush operative. What did you think of Rudy's speech, I asked? "He did the job we gave him," was the satisfied answer, "He really beat the hell out of Kerry." 

Out on the campaign trail today, another of last night's star performers, John McCain, was at the President's side.  With those Swiftees unveiling yet another TV ad today (this one shows Kerry tossing his medals away in 1971) McCain was back off the reservation, telling reporters he would bring it up with the President. The exact quote: "I keep working on him all the time, every chance I get. I've got his arm twisted. I think it's broken." A joke, we think.

Back at the convention, a rapid mood change from last night: The theme of the day is compassion. The messengers to deliver it: The Terminator (no irony here) and the Bush family. 

During prime time, twins Jenna and Barbara introduce dad by satellite from a college Republican baseball game in Pennsylvania (a battleground state, of course). He, in turn, presents the most popular Bush of them all, First Lady Laura for her turn on the convention stage. 

All this is so tightly choreographed in prime time that there is nary a spare second for those pesky network anchors or floor correspondents to inject any contrary thoughts into the happy Republican tableau. Reminds me of 1984, when the GOP opened their convention in Dallas with a nine minute soft-focus film on Ronald Reagan and dared the networks not to air it. Legendary NBC convention producer Reuven Frank didn't.  

E-mail Andrea at

Tune in to MSNBC to see the all the speeches tonight, as well as coverage from inside Madison Square Garden.

August 31, 2004 | 5:12 p.m. ET

Day of rage? (David Shuster)

If the protests get out of hand... today will be the day. 

A group called A31 has demonstrations planned for late this afternoon at various corporate entities, delegate hotels, and Fox News.  One group is planning to start at the World Trade Center pit, conduct a memorial to those killed, and then head to Madison Square Garden. 

At some point, the police will block them from getting close to The Garden... and that's when the group plans a massive "die-in."  Everybody will fall to the ground and stay there, forcing the police to arrest them and haul them off the street.  Half a dozen other groups are preparing similiar acts of civil disobedience, also in the area of the Garden.

The NYPD says it will have "no problems" handling people who suddenly lay down in the streets.  And police are prepared to arrest and remove up to "several thousand" if the protest groups get the numbers they are predicting.  None the less, one officer told me "this is not Seattle" (where civil disobedience turned into violent clashes).  "The police there didn't want anything to happen," said the officer, "we do."  The message was clear.  Some of the police here are actually looking forward to "testing themselves" through a confrontation.  Maybe it will dissuade some knuckleheads from doing anything other than lying down in the street.  But it might also lead to something very regrettable...  We'll see.

Mail David at

Tune in to MSNBC as we watch for developments on this reported plan for more protests.

August 31, 2004 | 4:00 p.m. ET

Bloggers, help me help Trippi (Phil Griffin, vice president, MSNBC Primetime programming)

Hardbloggers, let me introduce myself properly. My name is Phil. Now many may know of me through Joe Trippi's blog— his insults, his-pettiness, his small-minded-inside-the-beltway-I-wish-I-lived-in-New-York-and-loved-life-the-way-Phil-does mentality.

But I want you all to know: I like Joe Trippi— ever since he broke down sitting in his car on the shoulder of the NJ Turnpike, talking to Deborah Norville live-on-the-telephone on MSNBC , after leaving New Hampshire and the Dean campaign . At the time there were two things I knew about Joe Trippi: He had about as exciting a year anyone could have running a presidential campaign, and he made the Internet community forever a powerhouse in the political world. After I heard Deborah talk to him, I called Hardball EP Tammy... she knew him. I was excited. I told her I need to talk to him. A few days later, his tears wiped away, I got the call. Now, we don't see eye to eye politically, but we hit it off. A relationship was forged, one of ideas and excitement, and a mutual passion to build MSNBC's viewing audience and Internet community. Look, I like the guy... Soon, he was hired working at MSNBC... appearances on 'Hardball,' on primary nights and conventions, working with us on our Internet site, and finally, he-turned-us-on-to-blogging. And man, can he blog!

But, then in Boston, I make a joke—I offered him $5 to get a haircut— he looked like Maumee River Rat (check your geography books), and looked at me like I just sent him to Siberia.  And, then it started happening: going on-air unshaven, dishelved, sometimes unrecognizeable—a wild man! Then those blogging cheap shots started, angry shots at me, references to my to-my-fairly-good-looking bald head. Like I care. I ignored him.

Joe Trippi (left, wearing a new tie courtesy of Phil), with his crazed-Yankee baseball fan boss Phil Griffin, and his guardian angel boss Tammy Haddad. They are standing in front of MSNBC's trailer in Herald Square.
But bloggers I was wrong: We need, all of us, to help him. He's smart and talented, he's got a following and can be so much more. I need your help: Send him the message to "listen to Phil," "He'll make you a star." I'm looking at him right now... just maybe he's beginning to listen to me, he's starting to clean himself up a bit... he wants to do really well here in NY.

Look, a crisp blue shirt, even a tie... hair almost clean. Bloggers help me out,  help me help him, and we all will win.

Write Phil at

August 31, 2004 | 3:20 p.m. ET

Look out! (Joe Trippi)

My boss Phil (the crazed baseball fan) is about to blog.  Don’t believe a word this man tells you!  They have me in the trailer and Phil is trying to put some dumb yellow tie on me!  

E-mail Joe:

August 31, 2004 | 2:50 p.m. ET

Polite applause for VP Cheney (Priya David, campaign reporter traveling with the Cheney campaign)

Last night, Dick Cheney was politely applauded inside the Garden, but outside today there were signs that not everyone is happy with his gay marriage comments.  Some protesters angry that Republicans like Pataki and Giuliani support what they consider liberal causes, such as abortion rights, are none too happy with Dick Cheney’s comments recently that “freedom means freedom for everyone” and that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want, including, by implication, gay marriage. 

The campaign would like the brouhaha over the gay marriage comments to die down , pointing out repeatedly that the VP has made similar statements in the past, but it’s certainly still top of mind, even during a week of moderate speakers.

The whole family was on hand for the convention tonight, with the young granddaughters being as well behaved as they usually are on the trail. Hmm… any chance the family’s non-stop presence is to help soften the image of the curt Vice President? 

The Vice President is curiously “down” tomorrow, with no public events.  After investing each day in New York this week, there are few events for the media to cover, other than the standard podium check and entering his name for the nomination, done earlier today.  The only other public event, apart from the speech, of course, is a stop at the Republican Jewish Coalition. The VP is spending the rest of the time attending private meetings, many of them with high-dollar donors to the campaign. 

As a bonus note— look for Christian music to come on the scene Tuesday night.  I sneaked a peek at the musical guest list from the stage manager and tomorrow night we’ll have tunes from Dexter Freebish and the Christ Tabernacle Choir.  Dexter Freebish sounds like any mainstream modern rock band with upbeat guitar-driven tunes.  One very funny musical moment came Sunday when the marching band performing before the VP spoke at Ellis Island suddenly went into a rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”…and then followed up with a song by Eminem. Yes, they had the high school dancers grooving and all.  I think the bagpipes that were playing by the time Cheney arrived were more of what the campaign had in mind for theme music! 

Reactions to this post?

August 31, 2004 | 1:24 p.m. ET

Guest blog from an accredited blogger:

Those were the days (Brian Reich, editor of Campaign Web Review)

There was a day, not too long ago, when being a blogger meant something in this world.  That day appears to have passed.

The media frenzy surrounding the bloggers at the Democratic Convention was enormous.  I was there, on staff, helping to coordinate the activities of thirty-five credentialed bloggers— a job that was part care and feeding, and public relations flack.  Dozens of articles were written proclaiming them the new stars of politics, and proclaiming how the art of the political blog had a a very bright future.  The bloggers were the envy of the media and political world.

So when I accepted an invitation to blog the GOP Convention in New York for my blog, Campaign Web Review, I prepared myself for instant stardom.  I was ready to bare my soul to the media.  I got a haircut! And what happened?  The first full day of the Convention is in the books and only two media outlets came looking for interviews—  The Russian State Television and Radio Network and Konscious TV, a web-based interactive television show courtesy of NYU.  Where’s my fuzzy profile piece from the New York Times?  What about a little shout-out from Wired Magazine for the group?  We can’t even get a niche story written about us? Where is the love?

Blogging is, and should continue to be, a big story in this election.  While Democratic bloggers like DailyKos and Atrios get attention for fundraising, and Wonkette raises eyebrows talking about %!&#-ing, the Republican deserve to get some credit as well.  They have organized the largest blog community in support of a candidate anywhere Blogs for Bush, and they too are building an online fundraising network for candidates

So stay tuned, or logged in as the case may be. 

Brian Reich is editor of Campaign Web Review, a blog examining the use of the Internet by candidates, campaigns and organizations, activists and the media during the 2004 cycle.  He is the lone Democratic credentialed as a blogger for the GOP Convention.

August 31, 2004 | 12:50 p.m. ET

Blogging from bed (Dominic Bellone, Hardball producer and newsletter editor)

So I'm all set to hit the Big Apple for the fun and games of the convention and whatdaya know?, I get sick and told to stay home.  Doctors orders.

Bummer.  After reading Trippi's blog the other day about how luxurious our workspace accommodations are I am truly disappointed.  It's been doubly frustrating hearing Chris heartily promoting the Briefing and Hardblogger on-air and not being a part of the action producing them.

It's been cool however watching the "Miracle on 34th Street" as Chris has dubbed our coverage from Herald Square and to see him mixing it up in only the way Chris can, using such phrases as "bete noir" You won't hear that kind of talk on the other guys' shows!

I was impressed with last night's speeches, particularly McCain who blasted Moore and drew a sustained applause from the audience.  I was also amazed by Giuliani's speech which was great and cast him in the role as the classic hatchet man.  From a national perspective, I've always thought of Giuiliani as more of a moderate, "unifier" type, not the flame throwing type, which I actually prefer. By the way, Chris rightly pointed out last night how Giuliani essentially positioned the Republican party as the Neoconservative party with a stirring enunciation of that ideology.

The other interesting story that has caught my attention is the one about the Bushies having to backtrack and explain the President's remarks about not being able to win the war on terror.  Even Laura Bush was on the "Today" show this morning explaining her husband's remarks.  See here and here.

More on tonight's show later!  Stay tuned...

August 31, 2004 | 11:20 a.m. ET

Back and forth and back (John Lichman, the Hardblogger jogger )

John Lichman
The reason I enjoy being a runner at the conventions is the prep time that my associate, in this city Colin, and I are allowed. We arrive at the Garden around 3 p.m., we’re given orders for 7:45 p.m. The rest of the day is ours.

But who should kick off my initial day at the Republican Convention than the goddess of the 1970s, Bo Derek. Yes, Bo Derek has an entourage—her family and a publicist. Yes, Bo Derek has the power to force cabs and the NYPD to make her trip from Herald Square back to the Garden easier.  But can Bo Derek do no wrong?

Well, technically, yeah. She’s the Bo Derek. I wish I could use that excuse if I was running late with an assignment or returning a phone call. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that so-and-so called. I am the Bo Derek. You are not.”

While we all waited for the Bo Derek to arrive to her first interview with CNBC, well past the deadline, a man rolled up in a wheelchair. A girl with a DV camera followed, while yet another handed out postcards. This was an odd concept for a documentary, “How’s Your News?” Whether it’s some sick sales shtick or three documentarians out there to make a “new” genre, they still have the single greatest moment of my night: their reporter, Ronnie Simpson, stopping Tom Brokaw for a brief interview while doing a dead-on impersonation of the NBC anchor. I doubt I’ll ever forget it.

But more importantly than the Bo Derek and those documentary filmmakers who may be more evil than an old man kicking kittens: the speeches!  Granted, I was escorting Bo Derek by foot for most of them, but weren’t they nifty?

John McCain gave an oddly bi-partisan speech, and Giuliani bored most of the audience to tears. Well, I’ll be honest: he bored me to tears, since his speech kept me from taking Senator Oren Hatch (R-UT) from the clutches of Greta Van Susteren. Granted, Senator Hatch had agreed to do their show first, but the age-old New Yorker saying went from “Goddamn Giuliani…” to “Goddamn! Giuliani…”

At the very end of my day, which is 2 a.m. if you cared, I serve the MSNBC "After Hours" staff. This is a period of thinking back to the prior hours, wondering if I could perform something different or try and do an amazing task. Realistically, I’m sitting next to the riser staffed by the executive producer and waiting to see if she needs anything. And yes, while I have the space, the subway is great at 2 a.m. But most of the delegates and staff are safely nearby at Times Square, while I take the train back to Canal. So, really, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Really. 

P.S. I want feedback. Send it to . I just want proof that people read this, and don’t skip for all the Trippi blogs—which make it damn near impossible to be read.

August 31, 2004 | 10:25 a.m. ET

Are conventions bad for business? (Felix Schein, campaign reporter)

Political conventions used to big events for cities eager to fill hotels and local businesses. But looking at the early results here in New York and recalling those in Boston last month, it seems these events are bad for business , and you can blame the tight security and fears of terror or massive inconvenience.

Arshad, the cabbie who drove me to dinner last night said his business is off by about forty percent and that he can't remember the avenues of New York this empty. An investment banker friend, whose firm sent many of its  New York based employees to work from other cities, said Monday was awfully slow.

In fact, as I write this standing on the corner or 7th Avenue and 49th Street, just north of the normally bustling Times Square, there are not nearly as many people in sight.

It makes you wonder where we might end up four years from now. Not too many cities can provide the necessary security, hotel space, and facilities these conventions need, and even fewer would seem eager to pay the price Boston and New York are shouldering this year.

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