By Maury Z. Levy
The other reporters, the ones without the pencils in their hands, the ones without the questions in their heads,were gobbling up the $100-a-plate meal like it was real food. Andrea Mitchell, who was covering this Democratic dinner for both KYW radio and KYW television, was the only one not eating. It’s not that she wasn’t hungry. It’s just that she’s a stickler for facts. And she just won’t swallow a lie, even the smallest one.
“You didn’t like your chicken cordon bleu?” the waiter asked as he lifted her still full plate from the table.
“This,” she said, “is not cordon bleu. This is an inedible lump of chicken on a slice of canned ham camouflaged with cold gravy.”
Anyway, she was too busy running the dinner to eat. She picked up a copy of the program and skimmed down to the end. Teddy Kennedy wasn’t scheduled to speak until 9:15, which probably meant he wouldn’t get on until at least 10:15.
“No way,” Andi Mitchell said. “If he doesn’t get on by 9, I’ve got to let the film crew go. And we’re not going to have anything for the 11 o’clock news.”
She pushed her way up to the head table on the very large Civic Center floor. On the stage, at the right, the entertainment was going full blast. Some people in costumes were singing selections from The King and I, which seemed appropriate enough. She shoved her way down the crowded front aisle, the one that was full of security guards. One of the guards told her to stop and go the other way. She ignored him. The next guard grabbed her by the arm and told her a little less gently. “Mr. Camiel,” he said, “doesn’t want anybody in this aisle. You’ll have to go back to the press table. You’ll have to go the other way.”
She looked him dead in the eyes. “No,” she said, “I’m going this way.”
Before push got to shove, Bill Green jumped down from the head table and called the goons off. He asked Andi Mitchell what the matter was. She told him about her deadline. “You people do this thing,” she said, “for the publicity. What good is it if you don’t get any?”
“I know it’s asinine, Andi,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Sure you can,” she said, “go tell your buddy Camiel he’s screwing up my television feed. Go tell him people won’t even know Teddy Kennedy was in town tonight if he doesn’t get this thing moving.”
Bill Green shrugged his shoulders and said he would try. He went over to Pete Camiel, the city’s Democratic boss, and started talking. First Camiel was shaking his head “no.” Then Green pointed to Andi Mitchell down there in the front row, where she shouldn’t have been, and Camiel stopped shaking. He quickly started talking to some other people at the table, including Teddy Kennedy. And then, when the music stopped, Pete Camiel went up to the podium to make an announcement. Andi Mitchell signaled her film crew. “I think we’ve got it,” she said.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Pete Camiel said, “there has been a change in the program. As you know, Senator Kennedy was scheduled to be our final speaker. But the Senator has just informed me that he has another commitment tonight. And so, we are changing the program to make him our first speaker.”
The crowd cheered. Andi Mitchell smiled. Teddy Kennedy didn’t have Read the rest of this entry »