Yesterday, I was scheduled to go on Making Money with Charles Payne at 6:10 ET to talk about sanctuary cities. About 20 minutes beforehand, the news of James Comey’s firing blew up. I was convinced I would get bumped. Instead, the producers asked me to join the program to talk about Comey. I was in the chair for the full hour, offering some basic constitutional commentary about the President’s removal power. (No you can’t get up and go to the bathroom during breaks, as you are wired).
This was a very, very difficult assignment, as I hadn’t prepared at all to discuss this topic. Believe it or not, cable news is really, really tough. I spend, on average, an hour preparing for a four minute spot on television. Some (not all) shows even send you the questions in advance, so you can have answers at the ready. Whether questions are provided or not, I prepare a number of stock answers, which I rehearse over and over again. The dirty secret of cable news is that it is seldom necessary, or even desirable, to actually answer the question. I have such a short time to make my points succinctly, that I don’t leave much to chance. In addition to my words, appearance matters. I think carefully about my diction, posture, and keeping my eyes focused on the camera so it doesn’t look shifty. There is so much going on, between the lighting, makeup, and audio, that your focus has to be intense. When you watch a professional like Jeff Toobin deliver succinct commentary on the fly, it looks so simple. But it isn’t.
This was not my best performance, but I am proud of how I did under the circumstances. Indeed, if you look closely, you can see the glimmer of my laptop reflecting on my eye. I had my computer open in front of me, so I could track the unfolding story throughout the hour. This was how I pulled the quote from Judge Silberman out during the piece, to great laughter:
Who the hell does Mr. Comey think he is—a legal Clark Kent, emerging in tights from a very tall telephone booth to save the country?
Alas, as a result, I am on camera looking down, which is not good. (You do not see what is being broadcasted, so you have no idea when you are, and are not on camera).
My answers appear at 0:01, 7:24, 10:13, and 14:35.