340 are confused about how to find the proper press office inside the Pepsi Center. There are different press rooms with euphonic names like Radio Row, and Talk Show Row. Many of the broadcast journalists are stationed on the uppermost floor of the arena, in what is probably the press box during regular operation. Unaffiliated journalists are stashed on a Being John Malkovich-style semi-floor in the building’s mysterious middle. The unaffiliated press center is a large oblong room featuring several large, oblong tables, no wireless access, and dozens of reporters for small and desperate outlets. Everybody here looks vaguely depressed, or aggravated, possibly because the room was so difficult to find. One indignant woman, in a pink blazer, is desperately trying to find somewhere to have a cigarette. “They told me I had to go downstairs to have a smoke,” she said, shaking her head violently, as if she is about to abandon all caution and light up in the press elevator. She steps out onto the unaffiliated level. “Can I have a smoke here?” she asks. She cannot. The Blogger Lounge is appended to the unaffiliated press room. Its “lounge” credentials apparently hinge on the fact that it has sofas.
150 are in the CNN Grill. At the 2004 RNC in New York, CNN took over the Tick Tock Diner on 34th and 8th and offered round-the-clock free food and beverages to CNN staffers, their guests, and their hangers-on. In Denver, they have outdone themselves, assuming control of a giant brick building in front of the Pepsi Center, painting CNN-friendly slogans on its face (CNN=POLITICS, in a font face that brooks no dissent) and hanging a large electric star that reads CNN Grill. The Grill is ostensibly restricted to CNN staffers and talk show guests, and security is tight, although at times during the afternoon the Grill sets up an ice cream cart behind a fence and distributes free ice cream to all. 200 yards away, Fox News has commandeered another building, and it is much easier to get inside that one.
Sixty-two are enjoying massages.
Seven of them are having their photographs taken with Captain Morgan, the rum-loving pirate who, for some reason, was credentialed into the convention. Captain Morgan wears a red frock coat and a frilly shirt and sounds like he was once told in a high school acting class to project his voice from his diaphragm.
One of them is frantically trying to engineer a meeting between Captain Morgan and Ted Sorenson, the painfully dignified Democratic legend who is finishing an interview with Tavis Smiley just as Captain Morgan bursts into the tent, T-shirts and Morganettes in tow. That person is me, and, in this, I am a failure. But, then again, we are all sort of failures here.