Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth

July 30, 2004

CNN’s Balloon Broadcast Fiasco

Filed under: Media & Politics — Andy Carvin @ 4:34 pm

File this one under What on Earth Were They Thinking: Last night, as John Kerry wrapped up his speech to thunderous applause at the DNC, someone at CNN got the bright idea to broadcast the radio communications of convention director Don Mischer. Straight out of Dateline NBC’s annoying-as-all-get-out playbook, which broadcasts the voice of the line producer directing the crew as they exit each broadcast, CNN let Don Mischer’s voice crackle over the network, screaming frantically that not enough balloons were falling from the ceiling. In case you were watching NBC or PBS or CBS or were asleep, here’s a taste of what we got to hear on CNN:

“Go balloons, go balloons! Go balloons! I don’t see anything happening. Go balloons! Go balloons! Go balloons! Standby confetti. Keep coming, balloons. More balloons. Bring it- balloons, balloons, balloons! We want balloons, tons of them. Bring them down. Let them all come. No confetti. No confetti yet….”

At first I thought this must be a mistake: Kerry had just given the speech of his life, and rather than letting the audience soak up the moment, CNN was blaring this producer’s stage commands. No one at CNN bothered to explain what we were all hearing. Susanne and I looked at each other and tried to figure out if the audiocast was accidental, as if Mischer’s wireless radio was interfering with CNN’s audio.

On and on it went, and I wondered out loud if CNN would be smart enough to pull the plug in case the producer lost it and uttered a broadcast unutterable. And indeed he did. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I won’t repeat it here, but Matt Drudge is happy to oblige on his website, both in transcript form and an MP3 file. (By my count, Mischer said the word “balloons” 30 times over the course of just a few minutes.) What was even more amazing was that CNN continued to play the producer’s audio track after he’d sworn on live TV!

Of course, the only reason this is news is because Don Mischer used the F-word on national TV. But even if he hadn’t, I’d have to say CNN’s decision to simulcast the internal audio feed was foolish. First, CNN should know that producers often swear like sailors, particularly when things aren’t going their way, and any fool would have noticed from the get-go that Don Mischer wasn’t pleased with how things were going. Second, it really spolied the moment for those of us who just wanted to enjoy watching Kerry enjoying his moment on the national stage. Kerry’s rarely an inspiring speaker, and he did a pretty good job at sounding relaxed and tough at the same time — so let’s revel in the moment, right? Instead, CNN wants to give its viewers a lesson in production stagecraft.

Note to CNN: You picked the wrong moment.

The big question now is whether CNN will pull the same stunt at the end of Bush’s speech at the RNC next month. Let’s reinstate the broadcasting Fairness Doctrine to make sure they do — that way Bush’s moment in the limelight can be interrupted as Kerry’s was in an equitable fashion… -andy

July 29, 2004

Photo Gallery of Today’s DNC Events

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 4:37 pm

I’ve just posted a photo gallery covering my lunchtime walk through Boston, including the Free Speech Zone, Hillary Clinton and an Anarchist march through Back Bay…. -andy

Audio Blog and Video Clips from the Anarchist March

Filed under: Podcasts,Video — Andy Carvin @ 3:50 pm

During today’s anarchist march from Copley Square, I recorded an audio blog and shot several video clips. Click on the previous link to listen to the audio blog; otherwise, you can choose from the following clips:

Protest drummers
More drummers
March clip #1
March clip #2
March clip #3
March clip #4
March clip #5
Marchers’ feet

Enjoy…. -andy

Anarchists Descend Upon Copley Square

Filed under: Citizen Journalism,Video — Andy Carvin @ 3:40 pm

Around 1pm today, a group of several hundred anarchists held a protest at Boston’s Copley Square. I arrived just as they were beginning to march around the perimeter of the square. Carrying signs and banners with various anti-war, anti-corporate and anti-globalization slogans, they circled the square counter-clockwise as rag-tag drummers banged on upside-down mop buckets.

Anarchists on the March

There were many media present, but for some reason I drew much suspicion from this apparently paranoid bunch. “Get rid of that camera, you goddamn narc,” one of of them said as I tried to take a picture of several of them wrapping bandanas over their mouths. On another occasion, after videotaping drummers, one of the drummers demanded, “Give me your camera and show me what you just did.” Gripping my camera tightly, I showed him several seconds of footage.

“I hope it meets your satisfaction,” I replied somewhat sarcastically.

“Yeah, whatever,” he said dismissively, returning to his music.

Eventually, the marchers decided to leave the confines of the square and began to march eastward on Boylston Street. A lone police car escorted them, clearing the way up front so they could make their way down the street. Next came a group of photographers, who never cease to amaze me in their ability to shoot pictures and walk backwards without tripping over each other. The photographers were followed by the protestors, sporting more bandanas to cover their faces than deoderant, as I discovered when the wind changed directions. Lastly, sweeping up the rear, a lone Nader supporter gleefully followed the posse, holding a tall “Vote for Ralph Nader” sign.

Che Guevara Chic was all the rage at the march

I followed the protestors for several blocks, who made a left turn for one block before heading west on Newbury Street. The anarchists made for interesting viewing for the denizens of Newbury, many of whom were buried in their lattes or their salad plates as the protests marched by them. Some of the diners looked on in interest or amusement, while a few skeptics shouted back at them, “Move along, move along!” and the like…. -andy

Falun Gong Leave Nothing to the Imagination

Filed under: Citizen Journalism,Video — Andy Carvin @ 3:20 pm

mock torture in the Falun Gong protestCrossing through the Boston Common during lunch today I happened upon a large Falun Gong protest decrying the treatment of its practitioners by the Chinese government. When I lived in DC, the Falun Gong were a fixture of north Dupont Circle, where they camped out and meditated in front of the Chinese ambassador’s residence. Here in Boston, though, they’ve added rather graphic visuals to their protest.

Along the main path that crosses through the Common, Falun Gong members have set up human dioramas depicting torture of their members. In one booth, a woman in a blood-spattered blouse hangs from two ropes as a baton-wielding thug stands behind her. To her left, an old woman sits on the ground, her right hand pressed onto a small table, as two men pull out her fingernails. Another woman is bound inside an animal cage, while yet another woman, in a large cage, is forced to work a Singer sewing machine, producing goods labled “Made in China.”

Falun Gong woman in cage
A falun gong member protests by posing in a cage

Beyond the torture exhibit, more Falun Gong could be seen meditating and practicing tai chi, as can be seen in this video clip…. -andy

Hillary Has Left the Building

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 2:40 pm

policewoman at Faneuil HallAfter leaving the “free speech zone” at the Fleet Center, I walked over to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. A busy place year-round, the market was packed with tourists, delegates and media, particularly MSNBC staff who’d set up a broadcast center for Hardball broadcasts. Faneuil Hall itself was barricaded by a metal fence that went around the entire perimeter, with occasional openings to allow intrepid tourists inside the historic building, the interior of which appeared to be deserted due to either the lack of air conditioning or the rather intimidating police presence. Someone had stuck signs on the barricade saying “Faneuil Hall Welcomes the DNC: Shops Are Open,” but the numerous police leaning against the signs didn’t feel particularly welcoming.

I walked clockwise around Faneuil Hall, weaving through the crowd and police. On the front entrance of the building I spotted a phalanx of photographers that had camped out just in front of the barricade, cameras in position. Meanwhile, I heard a policeman say into his radio, “Okay, she’s coming down.”

Intrigued, I took out my camera and waited for no more than 10 seconds. Soon, a Secret Service agent descended a staircase and exited the door. Behind him, Sen. Hillary Clinton appeared, apparently leaving a healthcare policy forum on the second floor of the building.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary exits Faneuil Hall

Suddenly, a crowd of tourists surged forward, jamming their video cameras into the backs of the professional media that had gathered up front. Hillary waved to the crowd and shook hands with several people. More Secret Service agents appeared, escorting her through the crowd to a black SUV. Before entering the SUV, she paused to shake hands with more well-wishers, even posing in a picture with one of them.

Hillary Clinton
Through the Looking Glass: Hillary inside her SUV

Once inside the SUV, the police cleared away the tourists so she could depart, and within a matter of seconds she was on her way…. -andy

All Quiet in the “Free Speech Zone”

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 2:06 pm

Just before lunchtime I caught the train over to Government Center, so I could walk over to the official “Free Speech Zone” next to the Fleet Center to see what was going on and get a feel for how restrictive the space actually is. Once again, the T was not crowded; there were plenty of seats to choose from as we headed east into Boston.

Exiting the Government Center station, I was greeted by five national guardsmen in camouflage, standing outside the station on the plaza. The plaza was quiet, with more police than pedestrians. I walked north towards the Fleet Center, following the light flow of delegates heading in that general direction. Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee was standing at an intersection, chatting with delegates waiting for the light to change.

I’d expected to navigate to the protest zone by sonar, assuming that the echo of protestors making a ruckus would lead the way for me. No such luck. Apart from the occasional siren and helicopter flying overhead, all was quiet. I eventually had to ask a cop to make sure I was heading in the right direction. “Yeah, just keep going; you can’t miss it,” he told me.

I followed the long aluminum fence barricading the Fleet Center from the rest of the known universe for about five minutes, and soon reached Canal Street, home of the protest zone. From an architectural point of view, it was as bad as all the media reports had suggested: a long, thin space surrounded by razor wire and netting, with concrete support columns and steel support structures intersecting the corridor. The walls had been plastered with protest posters, a surprising number of them from a conservative group protesting gay marriage. Many of the concrete and steel beams had graffiti on them protesting the space itself, carrying messages such as “Free speech?” and “Mr. Kerry, Tear Down This Wall!”
Architecture representing the J. Edgar Hoover school, no doubt.

The biggest surprise was how utterly deserted the space was. There were more people lounging in the Dunkin Donuts down the street than there were inside the protest space. A handful of delegates toured the area, taking pictures and commenting on its “atrocious” location and design. Another woman sat on a rickety stage, looking rather glum.

“What time do the protests start?” a delegate asked her.

“I thought it would be packed to capacity by now,” she sighed.

One of the protest groups, the Bl(a)ck Tea Society, had declared today a day of “decentralized action.” In other words, protestors were encouraged to plan their own demonstrations around the city. Perhaps this was the reason the official protest space was deserted. Perhaps even the protestors could no longer stand being cooped up in this stifling corridor. Free speech isn’t free if it’s cordoned from the rest of the world like a squatter’s camp, so I guess I’d have to go elsewhere to find it…. -andy

July 28, 2004

Photo Gallery from Today’s Anti-Torture Rally

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 3:36 pm

I’ve now posted a photo gallery from today’s protest at Copley Square. Come have a look… -andy

Speeches, Songs and Arguments at Copley Square

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 3:17 pm

Today in Boston’s Copley Square, hundreds of human rights activists participated in a rally protesting the abuse of U.S. prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay. The event, sponsored by, featured numerous leaders from civil liberties groups, as well as anti-war congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Jean Gallo began the event by reading a poem to the crowd. “A lament for the dead of war,” she said. “We march among the thundering hypocrisy·. Let our lament be a new awakening, a moral call.”

Gallo was followed by Dr. Michael Paasche-Orlow of Physicians for Human Rights, a psychiatrist who specializes in counseling torture victims. He has worked with patients from Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and other countries ravaged by human rights abuses, he explained. Now, he said, these same patients are returning to him, haunted all over again because of seeing the pictures from Abu Ghraib and the reports from Guantanamo. “The United States has violated international law at Guantanamo,” he said. “It has violated its own uniform military code of justice· Human rights must be put back on the national agenda.”

Nancy Murray of the ACLU then came to the stage. “The penal colony of Guantanamo Bay should be causing as much outrage in our own country as it is around the world,” she said.

Meanwhile, as Murray continued her remarks, a rhetorical fracas broke out between human rights demonstrators and a pair of pro-Bush supporter who were holding signs behind the stage, each bearing pro-war slogans and Bible quotes. A crowd gathered around one of them ö a large, bearded man sporting sunglasses. The man was shouting at a human rights protestor, “Why don’t you leave America you liberal, pinko communist!” The protestor, meanwhile, poked his finger into the man’s chest and screamed back, “Though shall not kill! Thou shall not kill!”

“If you can’t stand it, why don’t you leave America,” the Bush supporter repeated.

“I am a veteran and I love my country!” the human rights protestor replied angrily.

By this point, the debate had attracted a crowd of media and protestors, perhaps 50 people strong, and the emcee of the official event took notice. “These are people who seem to think that Jesus would want to bomb and kill,” he told the crowd.

Meanwhile, the second Bush supporter, holding a sign bearing quotes from the New Testament, was engaged in a much more civilized debate with a young woman. Neither of them raised their voices, engaging in surprisingly subdued discourse. “I trust Jesus, I believe in Jesus,” the young woman said to the man. “But I just don’t understand how you can quote the Bible and support this war.”

Just before 1pm, Rep. Dennis Kucinich arrived in a black van. He waited inside the van until the current speaker finished his remarks, then was escorted by security to the stage.

“We must maintain our moral integrity by having a commitment to human rights,” he thundered to the crowd. “We need to review exactly where we are as a nation· From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, we know there is a consistency of policies that deny people their humanity.”

Kucinich spoke passionately, his volume and gesticulations ratcheted up with each subsequent sentence. By the time he finished, the crowd was applauding and shouting in approval. Musicians then took to the stage, as more than 20 protestors carrying an enormous puppet of a spinal column approached the crowd. The puppet, covered in white cloth and stretching at least 30 feet, hung in the air like a Chinese New Year dragon in mourning, each of its vertebra sporting slogans demanding changes in U.S. policies…. -andy

Audio Blog: Dennis Kucinich Speaks as Human Rights Activists Face-Off with Bush Supporters

Filed under: Citizen Journalism — Andy Carvin @ 1:17 pm

Here’s another audio blog from me at the Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo protest, immediately following a speech by former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich… -ac

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