I was going to talk about Fox News's coverage of Al Gore speech, but the fair-and-balanced network blew off the former veep's speech in favor of Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly interrupted his segment to toss to the Gore address for about 40 seconds, then started to rebut Gore. When Jimmy Carter took the podium, Fox joined it late and got out way early. Instead, viewers were treated to an interview with Republican activist Bill Bennett. While Carter was talking, Sean Hannity told Bennett: "I call this the reinvention convention. One of the things the Democrats want to do is create a false perception of who they are."

How would Fox fans know, since they weren't able to hear Gore (the man who won the popular vote last time) or former president Carter? What happened to "we report, you decide"? While Carter continued, Hannity played the video of Teresa Heinz Kerry telling a reporter to "shove it."

This is the kind of thing that makes critics question whether Fox has a Republican agenda.

I've long argued that people should separate Fox's straight reporters from its opinionated talking heads. And yes, all the cable networks cut away from some mid-level speakers to give more airtime to their own anchors, analysts and guests. If Fox wants to keep its talk-show stars on the air, it's probably better for ratings. (Brit Hume did rerun four or five minutes of Gore after 10 p.m.).

But virtually pulling the plug on live coverage of Gore and Carter? How about letting them speak and then rip them, or critique them, or whatever. The network is supposed to be covering the convention, not just using it as a backdrop.

Well, at least Hannity and Colmes put a Democrat on soon afterward. Jerry Springer.

On the other hand, Fox panelists did praise the effectiveness of Bill Clinton's speech, though Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke called it a bit "demagogic" toward the Republicans. Bill Kristol called it "a very centrist speech." And Fox viewers got to hear every word.

More on the coverage in my next post. But first, my look at some of the, shall we say, alternative media working the Boston beat:

Jon Stewart has had his share of presidential candidates on "The Daily Show," but John Kerry has resisted the late-night lure.

"Is this a strategy by John Kerry to present himself as serious -- or is he inherently unable to smile?" Stewart asks in mock-stentorian anchor tones.

The Comedy Central satirist, who chatted up Tom Brokaw here Monday, delights in making fun of the very media hordes -- or "whores," as he deliberately mispronounced it -- he has now joined at the Democratic convention. His job, he concedes, is to be "the dancing monkey." But he insists the real media -- as opposed to the fake news show that has made him wealthy by skewering the real media -- are so obsessed with entertainment that they've fouled the journalistic atmosphere.

How surreal is this? The professional funnyman is fuming about the sorry state of the news business, while a group of so-called serious reporters are trying to be funny, or at least coax Stewart into being his usual comedic self, while they absorb his tongue-lashing over breakfast.

With the Big Three networks each granting the Boston marathon a mere three hours over four nights, less traditional media outlets have rushed to fill the vacuum. Anyone with a microphone and telegenic hair, it seems, is here, including MTV, ESPN, BET and World Wrestling Entertainment. This is the big show, and even those normally consumed by smackdowns and hip-hop want a piece.

And the mainstream media want a piece of them. "Good Morning America" is courting "Daily Show" correspondent Stephen Colbert for guest appearances, while former "Daily" wild man Mo Rocca, a "Today" contributor, is manning the offbeat beat this week for CNN.

"The excitement is coursing all around me," Rocca told Larry King from a nearly empty convention floor.

Stewart downplays the importance of his Comedy Central platform -- "I follow a show about puppets making crank calls" -- even as political figures such as Howard Dean, John Edwards and Republican Chairman Ed Gillespie have appeared in search of those elusive, yawning-at-politics younger viewers.

"People do get information from the show," says Gillespie, who has also appeared on MTV and WWE's "Smackdown Your Vote." "It's important to demonstrate a sense of humor in politics." Besides, he says, "I'm a fan. It was kind of a kick for me."

MTV's newest correspondent here is Ana Marie Cox, better known as the foulmouthed blogger Wonkette. She appeared with Colbert on "Sunday Today" and boldly told NBC's Campbell Brown that young people get their news from "The Daily Show" and Web sites "because they think the real news is also fake."

Colbert stuck to his position that "no one gives you fake news any faker than we do."

It's come to this.

Cox is considering segments on delegate fashion -- such as the wearing of credentials as a carefully placed accessory -- and the e-mailing addiction of those who (like her) are always tapping at what they call their CrackBerry.

"Fluffy stuff is important because politics shouldn't be like eating your spinach," Cox says, sitting on a bench in the FleetCenter hall. "I'm dessert. But politics is a full meal."

Cox dismisses much programming aimed at the youth demographic as "either high-minded civility -- you should vote because it's important -- or you should vote because Madonna does."

Her wardrobe orders from MTV were "anything but a suit -- don't look like a grown-up." Accordingly, she is wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, black jacket and Converse sneakers.

"If terrorists attack, I'll be able to run out of the building," Cox says. "Surviving a terrorist attack is the new black."

Ocean Macadams, vice president of MTV News, says he told Cox to "walk around and find funny [stuff]" -- and no "sex jokes" on the air. "You can tell a lighter story in order to tell some greater truth," he says. "Our shows don't do Nick-and-Jessica numbers," referring to the viewership for the pop couple's reality series, "but they do really well."

Also chronicling the proceedings is "Cousin Jeff" Johnson, the co-host of Black Entertainment Television's "Rap City," who says he wants to make sure "that people entertained by BET are also empowered by BET. Our coverage is going to speak to young people that CNN is not speaking to, that MSNBC is not targeting."

These rap fans, he says, "are concerned about the war. They don't understand why some of their brothers and uncles and, in some cases, mothers are dying in Iraq."

A Baltimore youth pastor in his spare time, Johnson is not neutral on the race. "People of color should be offended by a president who won't speak to the organizations that represent them," he says of President Bush's decision to decline an invitation from the NAACP. But he's no Kerry cheerleader, either: "I have not heard yet from Kerry enough on how he intends to address issues that matter to people of color and poor people."

"Cold Pizza," ESPN's morning chat show, usually cares about FleetCenter only when the Boston Celtics and Bruins play there, but Executive Producer Brian Donlon finds the "marriage between politics and sports" irresistible. Candidates Edwards, Dick Gephardt and Wes Clark appeared on his show during the Democratic primaries.

"We've put together a bunch of stories you definitely won't see on the big networks," says Donlon. One of "Cold Pizza's" co-hosts, Kit Hoover, is here this week.

Monday's show covered Kerry throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park ("in the dirt," an anchor griped) and interviewed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who admitted that most folks here would, if pressed, choose a Red Sox victory in the World Series over a Kerry win in November.

Before Edwards speaks on Wednesday, "Cold Pizza" will air interviews with his old basketball and football teammates and coaches from North Carolina. And before Kerry addresses the convention Thursday, "we'll have in the studio the guy who taught him kite-surfing, and his caddie will talk about what kind of golfer he is," Donlon says. Plus, in another must-see moment, the show will feature a musical number from Kerry's long-ago band, the Electras.

Such fare may be good fodder for ESPN and MTV, but Jon Stewart sees the cable news networks leading the dumbing-down parade. He says shows like "Crossfire" and "Hardball" and CNN debates between Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan typify the medium's mindless partisan debates -- kind of like having Coke and Pepsi spokesmen debating beverage supremacy.

"Ann Coulter is rewarded because she just keeps saying the craziest [stuff]," he says.

What the other cable channels need, says Stewart, is a "Roger Ailes of truth," referring to the Fox News chairman who he says injects passion into the network (though Stewart sees it as conservative passion). Anchors and reporters should openly challenge politicians' spin-laden answers rather than being "sucked into the game."

Here is Stewart's rendition of a typical television debate about the convention's impact on Kerry and Edwards:

"What kind of bump are they going to get?"

"I think one point."

"I think five points."

"I say 10."

"Ten? You're insane!"

Wait a minute -- wasn't that just on the air somewhere?

Ba-da-bing. Now let's look at the first-night coverage

Dan Kennedy | http://www.bostonphoenix.com/medialog/index.asp defends the Big Three networks:

"Will the dinosaurs of broadcast journalism please stop whining about the fact that the networks are showing only three hours of the Democratic convention this week? PBS's Jim Lehrer was aghast at Sunday's Shorenstein Center get-together, as Mark Jurkowitz reports in the Boston Globe.

"To which I say: the networks should cover news, and there is no news to be made this week. Conventions used to pick the candidates; now primary voters and caucus-goers do that. Why there needs to be obligatory coverage of anything other than the speeches of the presidential and vice-presidential speeches is beyond me.

"Lehrer called the DNC 'four of the eight most important days we can possibly have as a nation." Good Lord! Not even close. The debates - which you'd think Lehrer might have some recollection of, given that he's passively presided over a few of them - are infinitely more important.

"Today people have choices. An enormous amount of convention coverage is being carried by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, and, for those who don't get cable, Lehrer's own PBS. Essentially Lehrer is arguing that viewers should be forced to watch an infomercial. Gee, maybe the off switch could be remotely disabled this week as well."

Salon's Chris Suellentrop | http://slate.msn.com/id/2104292/ has hope for the convention:

"Even a casual viewer of Hardball knows that the first rule of an election that involves a sitting president is that it's a referendum on the incumbent. This election, however, has turned out to be the opposite. It's a referendum on the challenger. Kerry probably isn't responsible for this turn of events, but he's benefiting from it: The referendum on the incumbent is over. President Bush already lost it. This presidential campaign isn't about whether the current president deserves a second term. It's about whether the challenger is a worthy replacement.

"So, even though there are supposed to be only five persuadable voters left in America, I'm inclined to think that the next four nights will be worth watching. Can the Democrats re-enact the successful 2000 Republican convention, a parade of moderation and diversity that convinced the nation that George W. Bush was a decent fellow who could be trusted with the levers of power?

"Four years ago, partisan Republicans were so consumed by Clinton hatred that they would shriek ecstatically every time Bush said he would 'uphold the honor and dignity of the office.' They channeled their rage into pragmatism: After eight years of Clinton, GOP primary voters wanted to beat Al Gore so badly that they rallied around Bush months before the primaries began, based on nothing more than the fact that he seemed electable. They made a calculated bet that Bush was a guy who would sell well, and they were right."

USA Today had hired conservative flamethrower Ann Coulter | http://anncoulter.com as a Boston columnist, then wound up killing her first piece and cutting her loose. This is how it began:

"Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the 'F-word' are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.

"Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists -- with the exception of Boston's police, who'll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they'll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs. . . .

"My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call 'women' at the Democratic National Convention."

They had a problem with that?

Columbia Journalism Review | http://www.campaigndesk.org/ strikes a skeptical note about the Boston bloggers:

Howard Dean "brought the house down when he told one blogger that she shouldn't take it as an insult that she wasn't considered a 'real journalist,' since real journalists simply weren't getting the job done -- a message that reverberates daily around the blogosphere. Bloggers, he and the others suggested, were on the forefront of a journalistic revolution.

"There's just one problem: They don't seem terribly sure what the hell to do. As a Campaign Desk colleague points out, having finally gotten a proverbial seat at the table, bloggers here are finding that their plates, if not empty, certainly aren't overflowing. There are a lot of reporters in Boston, and not, in the end, a lot of stories. Bloggers are having their big moment at last with the deck stacked slightly against them -- had they been invited to an event with a bit more substance, they might have had an easier time taking advantage of their access."

A footnote from the Blogging of the President | http://www.bopnews.com/archives/001105.html site:

"On CNN Jeff Greenfield anchors a throw to David Sifty (in the bloggers' booth?) to find out what the blogosphere thought of Al Gore's speech. By the end of the week it will be well nigh impossible to know which is the head and which is the tail of the media beast."

People say conventions are unscripted, but I stumbled upon the following last night:

Howard Dean stood toe to toe with a Republican yesterday--and lost.

The worst of it was, the kid was nine.

While Al Gore was addressing the convention, the former Vermont governor was in a hallway, good-naturedly smacking a hand-held bell as he tried to answer questions about American history. But he was bested by a confident Noah McCullough of Texas.

It was all a bit for Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," airing later this week. But Dean was as competitive as ever.

Who was president when the U.S. acquired Hawaii? Bing! Dean picked William McKinley and won. Who said "a house divided against itself cannot stand?" Bing! Dean tied the score with his Lincoln answer.

But Noah rallied with the first secretary of state (Jefferson), and Dean stumbled on the first president to travel outside the country (Teddy Roosevelt, not James Madison).

"The little Republican beat you," said quizmaster Donny Reisner. The victor generously gave the vanquished a George W. Bush doll.

Clinton Steals the Show

First, a glimpse of FleetLife.

Wandering around the convention hall, I bumped into Mark Green, who lost the New York City mayor's race to Mike Bloomberg and is now Kerry's co-chair in the state. He introduced me to his camcorder-toting teenage son, who is making a movie about the Kerry campaign. I offered up a few sound bites for the camera. It was then I realized that everyone really is covering everyone else here, an endless hall of media mirrors.

There are all kinds of stars here. Heading toward the ABC workspace, I heard a young woman shout, "Mr. Stephanopoulos! I've wanted to meet you for three years!" The production assistant, Grace Simmons, got her wish as she pumped George's hand. She told me she'd been a fan ever since Stephanopoulos, in his Clintonite days, co-starred in the movie "War Room."

In a makeshift studio, one ABC publicist BlackBerried another who was standing 20 feet away. How did we survive when we all had to, like, talk to each other?

Moments later I ran into Larry King. He seemed to be enjoying the convention -- he's doing two shows a night -- but, he lamented, "I know how it ends." Like many other media folks here, he began to reminisce about past conventions, such as listening to the rules fights in 1952, when it wasn't clear who would seize the nomination. Nowadays, no nominee dares even leave his choice of a running mate until the convention, not since Quayle in '88.

After Clinton's speech, I finally unplugged the laptop to leave my adopted home. Turns out a few thousand delegates had the same idea. Took quite awhile to reach the exit gate, where the Boston cops were helpfully providing directions.

I'm convinced that Chris Matthews doesn't sleep. After a 16-1/2-hour-day on Monday, I was trudging back to my hotel, which is past Faneuil Hall, and again I heard his booming voice from up on his platform, sounding like a man who was mainlining Starbucks.

I saw MSNBC President Rick Kaplan pacing nearby, giving orders on his cell phone. He told me he was glad not to be trapped in FleetCenter, to have the network's coverage based here among the crowds and the shops.

I told him there was another advantage: The food was better.

Maybe nobody sleeps in Boston. Passed a lot of crowded, music-blaring Irish bars (man, this city has a lot of bars), and at midnight in the hotel, heard another round of deafening fireworks. Either they're really excited about John Kerry or shooting off rockets is their idea of a good time.

This morning, trying to shake a case of convention-itis, I jogged near Boston's gleaming waterfront as the ferry to Provincetown pulled out. A brief moment of peace. But then I came upon the star-spangled ABC News bus, and heard a prominent media executive say, "I think I'm on for dinner Thursday night with Norman Lear." There's no escape.

All right. As promised, here's some of the first-day coverage:

It was back to the future, says Robin Toner in the New York Times | http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/politics/campaign/27assess.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1090931259-Emvly/CS1oqCSak2RKh9wA:

"Franklin Roosevelt spoke of the 'forgotten man,' Bill Clinton of the 'forgotten middle class.' Now the Democratic Party of Senator John Kerry is reaching for that long -- and politically successful -- legacy with a promise to ease the 'middle-class squeeze' and restore the booming economy of the Clinton years.

"To that end, the Democratic National Convention on Monday night offered a simple message about the economy: It was better under the Democrats. The middle class had a brighter future. And Mr. Kerry has a plan to restore middle-class prosperity -- to stem the loss of jobs overseas, to ease the burden of rising health, education and energy costs on families, to get the nation's fiscal house and economy in order.

"Indeed, it was Bill Clinton himself who stood before a national television audience on Monday night and made the case, as he did so often in 1992, that the economic future need not be feared -- and that the Democrats offered a better choice when it came to tax and budget policy. He scoffed at the Republicans' decision to give big tax cuts to wealthy Americans like himself while, he asserted, shortchanging critical national needs like education. He criticized the Republicans for turning a huge surplus into a deficit."

Ron Brownstein focuses more on the issue of strength in the Los Angeles Times | http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/2004/la-na-assess27jul27,1,1099300.story?coll=la-center-elect2004:

"Day One of the Democratic National Convention underscored Sen. John F. Kerry's determination to challenge President Bush on national security while emphasizing a deeply personal contrast rooted in their divergent experiences during the Vietnam era.

"From Presidents Carter and Clinton to 2000 nominee Al Gore and former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, a succession of speakers Monday night charged that Bush had failed to improve America's security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That signaled the Democrats' determination to confront the president on the national security record his campaign has assumed would be his strongest asset.

"Even more strikingly, Clinton and Carter not only articulated the familiar Democratic argument that Kerry's experience in Vietnam has prepared him to serve as commander in chief, but pointedly contrasted his service with Bush's decision to serve in the National Guard at that time. In an explicit and combative passage, Clinton declared: 'During the Vietnam War, many young men -- including the current president, the vice president [Dick Cheney] and me -- could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background and he could have avoided going too. Instead, he said: "Send me." ' "

That was the money quote of the night -- and a clever rhetorical device by the man often derided as a draft-dodger to include himself.

The Washington Post's John Harris | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16984-2004Jul27.html zeroes in on the evolution of Clinton:

" 'We told you so' is an impossible sentiment for many Democrats to resist -- and they did not even try Monday night. The fresh young faces who exhilarated another Democratic convention when they first joined the cause 12 years ago are no longer so fresh.

"Bill Clinton's salt-and-pepper hair from 1992 is now solid white. Al Gore has lost a good bit of his hair. These familiar figures -- one man famous for survival, the other for electoral misfortune -- made their case that the country would be better off if the policies of the 1990s had been empowered for another term four years ago. . . .

"A homespun style softened the edge of biting partisan commentary, as [Clinton] made an impassioned case against Bush's economic and foreign policies, and for Kerry's character and national security credentials."

We're seeing the play-nice convention, says Steven Thomma of the Philadelphia Inquirer | http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/9249858.htm?ERIGHTS=8136479937271692395philly::kurtzh@washpost.com&KRD_RM=8ooxoovrwquwrwtrpqrooooooo | Howard | Y:

"Happy talk is here again. At least in prime time, and at least for a few days.

"Eager to stir their base while not scaring off undecided voters, Democrats took some swipes yesterday at President Bush but toned down their most partisan digs as they opened their four-day national convention.

"Al Gore, the former vice president and 2000 presidential nominee, dropped some of the more jarring rhetoric he has used in recent weeks, such as calling Bush a 'moral coward and likening Republicans to Nazis.

"Instead, Gore reminded Democrats of the anger and frustration they felt over the 2000 election result and then urged them to channel those emotions into votes."

USA Today's Susan Page | http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-07-27-news-analysis_x.htm also observes the element of restraint:

"When the Democratic National Convention opened Monday, some speakers weren't saying what they really wanted to say, and many delegates weren't hearing what they really wanted to cheer.

"But almost no one was complaining about it.

"With a discipline unusual for Democrats, divisions in the party were papered over and tough rhetoric against President Bush was tamped down in a convention scripted by presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign.

"Out: bashing Bush.

"In: praising Kerry.

"Word of the day: strength."

Sounds like the word of the next three days as well.

"Even former vice president Al Gore -- who in recent speeches called Bush a 'moral coward' on the environment and a leader who lied to Americans about Iraq -- restrained his fiery language about the man who defeated him for the presidency four years ago."

Charlie Madigan | http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/elections/chi-madigan,1,2712676.story?coll=chi-homepage-fea , one of the Chicago Tribune's three bloggers, had this take on WJC:

"Okay, hit erase on the part of memory attached to the whole nasty impeachment effort and the behaviors and issues glued to it.

"It's gone, as gone as that 401K bundle that looked so remarkably fat before the bubble burst. Gone as the hope of equity backing for an Internet startup. As gone as a turkey in the corn. As gone as Alan Greenspan's thoughts about lowering interest rates. What remains is William Jefferson Clinton, one of the most successful politicians in modern Democratic Party history and still a man in strong standing with his party.

"He is unyieldingly, immensely and passionately despised by about the same slab of the electorate that passionately despised him all the way through his presidency."

No one, possibly not even Hillary, liked Clinton's speech more than the WashPost's Tom Shales | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17005-2004Jul27.html:

"A veritable combination of Elvis, the Beatles, James Brown and Bruce Springsteen. . . . He was just plain magnificent."

But Slate's William Saletan | http://slate.msn.com/id/2104296/ says the man of the hour was Gore:

"In 2000, when Al Gore was debating Bill Bradley, my wife told me that the less she had to look at Gore, the easier it would be to vote for him. I was pretty hard on Gore, too. I still think he blew the election with a needlessly angry brand of populism. Afterward, I wondered how he ever got the nomination.

"Tonight he reminds me. He reminds us all. He electrifies the convention with the most powerful speech of the evening. . . .

"Behind the humor, Gore carries a hammer. The 2000 election taught several hard-earned lessons, he observes. The first is that 'every vote counts.' In a shot at Ralph Nader, Gore tells viewers not to let anyone take away their right to vote or talk them into 'throwing it away.'

"Gore wallows a bit in the tiresome Democratic habit of blaming his 2000 defeat on the referees. He asserts again, as falsely as ever, that the Supreme Court chose the president in 2000. But he does drive home one point no politician could have made clear in 2000, for the simple reason that hadn't been illustrated yet: What happens in a presidential election matters a lot."

Andrew Sullivan | http://www.andrewsullivan.com finds himself pleasantly surprised:

"I'm still somewhat in shock at the first night of the Democratic Convention. I kept thinking I was at a Republican convention. Tightly scripted, elegantly choreographed, seamlessly on the centrist message of war, unity, maturity and judgment. Foreign policy was front and center; faith was showcased; military service was held up as the ideal; prudent leadership was touted in a time of 'peril,' in Hillary's word.

"I wonder if they can keep this up. But I'm amazed they've tried. I've been writing for months now that Kerry's most effective message would be that he'd conduct the war on terror with more allies and more wisdom than Bush. But I never actually believed he'd be canny enough to do exactly that. But he has! If the first night is any indicator, the Democrats have played the smartest, strongest card of the campaign so far."

Even National Review's David Frum | http://nationalreview.com/frum/diary072604.asp gives Clinton his due:

"10:50. Clinton has a riff about . . . how the Republicans are cutting taxes for millionaires like him. This is effective stuff! Who wants to see Bill Clinton get more money? I wonder whether John Kerry will pick up the theme. His family is at least 60 times richer than Bill Clinton's. Think how much bigger his family's tax cut would have been -- that is, if his family actually paid taxes. Fortunately for them, their money is protected by trusts and careful planning. So the taxes that will actually be raised will fall on people who earn less than Bill Clinton and have far, far less than John Kerry: for instance, you.

"10:59. What? No kiss from Hillary at the end?

"11:00. OK, I'll admit it. That was a good speech -- the only speech all evening with a trace of humor, the only one to make any kind of case for the party's soon-to-be nominee. It was generous in a way that Gore's, Carter's, and Hillary Clinton's were not. It wove together Democratic themes in a coherent way. It even offered the evening's only memorable line that was not a bitter accusation: 'Send me.' Good thing we're not running against him this year. On the other hand, too bad we're not running against her."

I knew he'd sneak something in.

Finally, Josh Marshall | http://talkingpointsmemo.com has a not-quite-up-close-and-personal encounter:

"As I was leaving the FleetCenter, making my way down an escalator to the first floor, I looked across the few feet separating me from a parallel-running escalator and saw, yes, Michael Moore.

"First, I should say, as I side note, that trying to pull off an impromptu interview, with pen and pad, calling out questions from one escalator to another, is a perilous endeavor, as you're apt not to be paying attention when the escalator ends or simply be looking the wrong way. But let's not distract ourselves with that. Just file that away for future reference.

"In any case, there I am a few feet from Moore; and it's one of the first times all day when I can think of a question to ask someone where I'm really curious and uncertain as to what the answer will be. So I ask him what he makes of all of this. No attacks on the president. Not even any mention of the man's name. It's like the anti-Michael Moore event. Or rather the non-Michael Moore event. (I caught myself the first time, realizing that hadn't come out precisely as I'd intended.)

"Clearly, the guy didn't know what to make of me. And as he breezes by he says, 'Oh, Really? I liked it. You don't even have to say it. Everyone knows how bad it is.'

"Think what you will about Michael Moore or evening one of the convention, I think that sums up precisely what this event is all about and the dynamic on which it's operating. I've seen a slew of articles today arguing that the Democrats must energize their 'base' while not alienating the swing voters John Kerry needs to climb from the mid-40s past 50%."

Talk about moving journalism. I've got to start riding more escalators.