If, as Andy Warhol said, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, I still have 11 minutes left.
Last night, I appeared for a little less than four minutes on the FOX News show, "Hannity & Colmes," along with Patty, the heroine of my new book. We were invited on in the wake of a national Associated Press story about the book, Cry Rape, and the local political reaction it's generated.
Four minutes, it turns out, was barely time enough to scratch the surface. It was far less time than Fox's conservative-liberal tag team gave to the second part of an interview with Donald Rumsfeld or, less deservedly, to a segment about recent remarks made by Prof. Ward Churchill, whom guest David Horowitz held up as a major intellectual figure on the left. Yeah, right.
I appreciate that Hannity and Colmes, whose show I watch frequently, recognized ahead of their broadcast peers that Patty's story merits national attention. They were respectful and asked reasonable questions, although maybe not the best questions given the extremely limited amount of time. Patty and I were both able to make a few points. But I can't say that the experience was enjoyable.
First of all, there was the anxiety of being on national TV, live, before an audience of about two million people. And then there's the disorientation of the setting. Patty and I were placed in a small chamber adjacent to the newsroom at WISC-TV Channel 3, ironically the CBS affiliate, with a single camera trained on us, and a light bulb as bright as twelve suns beaming down from the ceiling, so hot that it filled the room with the smell of burnt rubber.
There was no way to see our inquisitors -- no doubt an easier adjustment for Patty, on account of her being blind. Tiny earplugs were our only connection to the show in New York. I knew I must have looked, as I felt, uncomfortable; what I didn't realize, until I got home and saw the tape, was that, in the space of those four minutes, I managed to blink at least 2,000 times.
I can't explain why. I am not usually a heavy blinker. Maybe it was the lights, maybe a sign of nervousness. But it felt pretty lousy to behold. It's a tape I probably won't watch again.
This is all vanity, of course. The main point is that I had, for the briefest of moments, an opportunity to appear on national television with the most courageous woman I know, to convey that attention must be paid to the injustice she endured. Maybe I succeeded, maybe not. Maybe I'll do better in those remaining 11 minutes.