In this issue of Banter M:
Jon Stewart's Departure from The Daily Show Will Hurt America - Bob Cesca on what the loss of Jon Stewart means for America
Why Being an Entrepreneur Sucks - Editor in Chief Ben Cohen discusses the pitfalls of running The Daily Banter and why the entrepreneurial dream is largely a farce.
The Outsider - Chez Pazienza recounts how he stuck his nose back into his old job at CNN after being unceremoniously fired a few months earlier
Jon Stewart's Departure from The Daily Show Will Hurt America
by Bob Cesca
It's an awkward way to start a tribute to Jon Stewart during his final week as the host of The Daily Show, but, yeah, he often annoyed me. Here's just a few reasons.
1) He often let true villains slip through his fingers during interviews. On one hand, Stewart could be absolutely brutal to characters like Bill O'Reilly or Mike Huckabee, but once they stepped up to his desk and sat down, the Jon Stewart from the previous two segments, who invariably destroyed these jokers, disappeared and was replaced by a sometime befuddled, deferential Jon Stewart. I kind of understand why. He was being polite, and being polite is sometimes to only way to get someone like Rand Paul to come on the show. But he could've shown a little more aggression in the process, especially with O'Reilly about whom Stewart seemed more amused than outraged. Put another way, Stephen Colbert was often merciless to his guests, and yet they somehow kept coming back.
2) Jon Stewart's exasperation with politics would often make me exasperated about politics to a point where I didn't want to watch The Daily Show. If it's all so hopeless and soul-crushing, why do I need to watch someone acting hopeless and soul-crushed? In other words, why am I watching something the host barely wants to talk about? I suppose I just come from a different school of thought in which if it's my job to do something, and I'm paid extraordinarily well to do it, I simply do the job and leave the griping and exasperation for home or over some drinks.
We'll get to my third gripe presently.
Of course, I nitpick. The indisputable fact is that Jon Stewart is/was a powerhouse. We could always rely upon him to so precisely deconstruct a news story down to its most salient problems then reconstruct it in away that not only made sense, but which added a satirical spin that was literally the only way to make fun of a particular story. With rare exception, we always knew that if Stewart was on his game, no story, no politician, no pundit could reach escape velocity quickly enough to break away from his monstrous gravitational field, dragging the topic down and crushing it in 11 minutes or less.
In my lifetime, I can't think of another personality, other than perhaps Stephen Colbert, who could so reliably cap the end of a news day in way that was not only funny, but wickedly smart. Lewis Black said something the other day which Chez Pazienza and I had already mentioned prior to that on our podcast. Jon Stewart was in just about every way the Walter Cronkite of our generation. And this leads me to my third and final gripe about Jon Stewart.
3) He can't go. I understand exactly why he's moving on to other projects. Realistically, it's his life and his career and his family. But when you've been doing what he's done for this long, and, by the way, doing it in a way unmatched by anyone else past or present -- and when your work is so vitally important for the discourse -- in a certain way, you've ceased to be your own person and instead grown into a servant of the people. I hate to sound selfish about it, but we need Jon Stewart. We need him to articulate what's ailing us. We need him to speak truth to power. We need him to walk us through the darker passages in our national story. I can't help but to feel like he's abandoning us just when we've arrived at the front gates of the Idiocracy, and there's no one else to wave us away from entering. So, yeah, would someone please chain Stewart to that desk for another couple of years?
Godspeed to Trevor Noah, but he's simply incapable of plugging the leaks with the same precision and Herculean comedic strength as Jon Stewart. Surely, he'll go viral now and then, and touchy-feely millennials will probably like him. It's just that he simply lacks the heft of Stewart, and if he's capable of growing some heft, I fear it'll be too late to make a difference. Bear in mind, Stewart entered The Daily Show as a known entity. He was already a well known talk show host, comedian, a frequent guest on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show and he was earmarked for taking over one of the slots in network late night. It didn't take him very long to make us completely forget about Craig Kilborn. It won't be the same with Trevor Noah. It might have with someone else, but Noah is too much of an unknown commodity to actually make a dent in the the often unstoppable daily political meat grinder.
The departure of David Letterman and Jon Stewart signify the tragic end of an era. With the ascension of Trevor Noah, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and James Corden, we've entered a safe, cuddly period for late night comedy and news satire. Whereas Letterman and Stewart were each in their own way relentless and incendiary, the new batch of television talkers are more comfortable with goofy stunts and easy, crowd-pleasing silliness.
I don't know exactly why, but the vibe in late night is no longer about satire. It's all about toothless parody and inoffensiveness. And I honestly believe, as Jon Stewart so appropriately said on CNN's Crossfire, it will hurt America. I don't necessary believe Fallon and the others have to be prickly or wired directly into the wonky details of the latest news cycle. Frankly, they don't have the gravitas to pull it off anyway. (By the way, thank goodness for Stephen Colbert accepting the Late Show gig. He's a glitch in the trend, to be sure.) But if there's someone out there who can fill Stewart's shoes, please step up. We need you.
Why Being an Entrepreneur Sucks
by Ben Cohen
Most mornings, I wake up and panic. In recent months that panic has subsided somewhat, but the gnawing feeling that I am a fraud who doesn't know what the fuck he is doing still lingers, ready to consume my morning with negativity. Usually, after about 45 minutes of focused breathing, some calming music and a cup of English breakfast tea, I come to the conclusion that I am no less fraudulent than anyone else idiotic enough to start their own business, and I go about attending to the tasks I have to do that day.
Such is the life of an entrepreneur in modern American society - a society that incidentally reveres the entrepreneur and the self made man/woman to the point of religiosity. If only they knew...
There are literally hundreds of thousands of books about becoming a successful entrepreneur, with titles like "Think and Grow Rich", "The Four Hour Work Week", "The Hundred Dollar Startup", "The Secret" and so on. Mostly, these books exist to make money from people who won't ever become entrepreneurs, but secretly dream of ditching their nine-to-five and want to feel inspired by those who have. Generally, I don't read those books. They just serve to remind me that I could be doing about a million things better than I am. I could be more efficient with my time, I could save money by outsourcing, I could travel around the world and have an Indian virtual assistant handle all my emails. I could even just visualize my own success and turn The Daily Banter into the next billion dollar venture capital darling with the power of my mind.
The practicality of running your own company though - at least in my opinion - is about relentless grind and an ability to quiet the voice in your head that tells you to curl up into a ball and hide from the world. I have to do more than that in my role at the Banter given it is a media company, and I am obligated to share my thoughts publicly about politics, media and culture. This was of course, the entire point of starting the site in the first place, but after exposure to the brutal world of writing for money, I have gone through spells of not wanting to say anything at all. Trying to manage financial relationships with advertisers, organize editorial, think about branding issues (whatever that is) and manage insurance, tax, legal fees, and so on has the annoying tendency to suck the joy out of having a creative business. When times get tough (as they invariably do) the constant worry has frayed my nerves, doing untold damage to my confidence and making me less effective as a leader.
This is apparently what leadership is all about - but let me tell you, it is fucking hard.
Part of managing my own psychology as it relates to the business is to remind myselfwhy I am doing this. The truth is, I love writing and being a part of conversations so much that I'd be doing it for free. Objectively I know that money screws this up, so I literally tell myself out loud that I love what I do. Most of the time this works well and I'm able to write honestly and openly. Other times I can spiral into a vortex of self doubt and resentment, and look for alternative careers in turtle conservation on remote desert islands.
The truth is, I never set out to be an entrepreneur. I'm doing this because I quite literally cannot do anything else. I've had stints in nine-to-fives on multiple occasions, none of which ended particularly well. I'm innately restless, individualistic, and completely allergic to authority, meaning I'm about as well suited to corporate life as an Eskimo would be to the Sahara desert. In structured environments, I am simply unable to function. I can't get up on time, can't go to bed early enough, can't show up to meetings when they start, and will find almost anything else to distract myself other than the job I am supposed to be doing. This was essentially the story of my school life, and I was told by dozens of teachers in my British private school that I did not have what it took to become successful.
To my continued amazement though, I am able to all of the above as long as I'm the one telling me to do it.
There is no hiding the fact that entrepreneurialism can be about as fun as swimming in a mosquito ridden swamp - the constant self doubt, uncertainty and vulnerability that comes with it can be completely debilitating. You can never, ever get comfortable with your lifestyle because you never know how much you are going to make in any given month. You can never plan for the future, take a vacation without checking emails on at least a daily basis, and never pass responsibility off onto someone else. It is your company and your responsibility. If you have employees, you are also responsible for them, and by extension their families who rely on the money your company generates.
The worst thing about this awful uncertainty though, is that I secretly enjoy it. I love figuring out ways to survive extreme situations. I love my team, and I love creating something with them that was not there before. The intense loyalty I feel towards the other Banter writers is something that comes from going through hell together. We fight, we panic and we celebrate together - a seemingly never ending process that is exhausting but exhilarating and immensely rewarding at the same time. We have been worrying about our ability to survive for several years now, but we are still here, still fighting and still writing.
How much more can I take of this? I really can't say, but as much as entrepreneurialism sucks, at least it's not a job.
by Chez Pazienza
This coming Friday you'll be able to hear my appearance on theStephanie Miller Happy Hour. The show was recorded on Wednesday and during it we talked quite a bit about my firing from CNN back in 2008, which came to pass because the network frowned upon the personal blog I'd been keeping for a couple of years. One of the stories I mentioned to Stephanie and her co-hosts involved a trip that I made back to the Time Warner Center in New York City, the location of the CNN offices I used to work in, a few months after my dismissal. The reason for my surreptitious return was to take part in a seminar being held at CNN in conjunction with 2008's Internet Week activities. The following is the full story of how I stuck my nose back into my old job even after I'd been kicked out. It was originally published at my blog in June of 2008.
The look on Bryan Bell's face alone would've made the whole thing worth the effort.
A current senior producer on CNN's American Morning and, ironically, the man who moved me up to New York from the network's Atlanta hub -- unwittingly setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to me being fired -- Bell was one of the first people I ran into upon faux-casually strolling into the lobby of the Time Warner Center last Wednesday morning.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked, sharply breaking his stride in my direction and contorting his face into a wide-eyed mask of appropriate surprise. He was, after all, suddenly standing face to face with a ghost -- someone who four months previously had been shown the door to the building and wasn't supposed to be allowed back in under any circumstances. Yet, there he was. There I was.
I shot Bell a smirk tinged with as much subversive attitude as I could muster, which, given the situation and the level of insurgent impertinence required of me to bring it about, was quite a bit. "Going to the internet conference up on 10," I said as I glided past him, spinning and pushing a quick fist into his shoulder. "Good to see you, man."
He was still staring in some form of disbelief as I turned and squeezed between the closing doors of the elevator, locating the familiar button for the 10th floor almost involuntarily and punching it.
We're just about at the end of "Internet Week '08" here in New York City, the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event aimed, from what I can gather, at bringing together the powerful movers and shakers of the digital and media worlds in a concentrated effort to better understand and more fully utilize the internet to jack the American consumer. All week long, various seminars, panel discussions, cocktail parties, meet-and-greets and opportunities for hipster hook-ups have been going on throughout the city. And while Internet Week probably isn't the sort of boon to New York's prostitution industry that, say, last month's annual Fleet Week celebration was, it's admittedly allowing for an unusual confluence of ideas and cultures, as at least a few of the gaunt and scruffy Red Bull addicts of the internet underclass -- still basking in the post-orgasmic afterglow of Comic-Con -- are granted entrance to the Emerald City and afforded a rare audience with the mighty media wizards who usually prefer to remain safely behind the curtain of their office doors. For the people at the top, it means a chance to get a better handle on that whole "internet thing," while for the young upstarts on the bottom, it presents a host of opportunities to kiss a little Illuminati ass in the hope of landing the kind of job that will allow them to pay their hefty student loan tabs and fulfill their dreams of transforming themselves into that Ferrari-driving techno-smart-ass kid from the National Treasure movies.
As someone who violated the accepted protocol and did everything backwards -- slipping from the warm embrace of corporate media favor to tumble down and land in journalism's not-so-soft underbelly -- I haven't been sure of my personal place in the Internet Week festivities. Almost everyone in attendance has either already "arrived" or is looking to devour his or her way up to the top of the food chain; I've recently taken up residence near the bottom. A lot of them are nursing big aspirations of getting in; I still have a fresh shoe print on my ass from being kicked out.
In other words, I knew going into it that I'd probably spend a lot of time asking myself just what I was doing there, regardless of where there happened to be at any given moment.
But the Time Warner Center wasn't like any other stop on my Internet Week itinerary: It's the building that houses CNN's New York studios, which means that it's where I worked for three years before being fired a few months ago for, of all things, blogging. Bryan Bell, my friend and former co-worker, was right in echoing and putting a finer point on my own sentiments: What the hell was I doing there?
I only had a few seconds to ponder whatever combination of brass balls and rank stupidity led me to venture back into the belly of the beast before the elevator doors separated, depositing me on the TWC's 10th floor for last Wednesday's "Conversations on the Circle" breakfast panel discussion, sponsored by Time Warner and moderated by CNN's porcine D.C. bureau chief, David Bohrman. As I stepped out of the recessed and muted lighting of the elevator, the first thing that struck me was the contrast. I'd never considered the Time Warner Center public office area from the perspective of a civilian and therefore hadn't noticed that everything a visitor sees -- from the moment he or she walks through the revolving door entrance and navigates security to the ride up in the high-speed elevator -- is covered in light-absorbing black slate and brushed steel. The whole place looks like the Death Star, only slightly more imposing. Walking in, you get the impression that somewhere in the building, there's a control room for a laser cannon mounted on the roof with enough firepower to destroy 30 Rock. But that sense of foreboding lifts the second you arrive on 10 -- the top visitor-accessible floor and the main conference area. It's almost as if the building's interior designers purposely aimed for a William Blake-style "heaven and hell" motif, with the dark and spare street-level lobby representing the heretical netherworld and the lofty heights of the 10th floor symbolizing the kind of elysian hereafter that awaits only the most noble servants of the mega-media ethos.
Put simply, everything on the 10th floor is so damn bright. The floors gleam with the polished reflection of overhead lighting, the halls are coated with an eggshell matte; there's even a surreal Vegas-like array of white pinpoint lights that flashes uselessly along one wall leading to the conference area, which is itself an awe-inspiring separate section of the floor complete with 20-foot high ceilings and massive picture windows providing spectacular views of the city beyond. At no point during time spent in the TWC's conference area will anyone cease to be impressed by its grandeur and reminded that he or she is being given a chance to converse with the enlightened beings atop Olympus.
I edged past the seemingly life-like welcome drones, the thin attractive women dressed in smart black Nehru suits waiting outside the elevators. Their job was to direct attendees to the Hudson conference room where the morning's seminar was being held, but I figured I knew where I was going and didn't need to ask directions -- plus, the further I kept my head down, the better. I'd already signed in downstairs, in hell, so when I arrived at my destination -- a spacious room dotted with several high, circular tables and featuring a spartan coffee and juice buffet station against one wall -- I dropped my shoulder bag and immediately made a bee-line for the food, my thinking being that if I was going to listen to Dave Bohrman for an hour-and-a-half, at least I could do it on a stomach full of high-quality freebies.
I had staked out a table and was engaged in a conversation with one of the morning's other attendees -- each of us about half-way through a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin -- when the announcement was made that it was time to begin. Slowly, everyone around me picked up their things and began filing into a separate room, some grabbing a road bagel or final bottle of water off the food table as they passed it. I didn't say anything out loud, but the revelation that we weren't going to be forced to stand throughout the seminar drew a small sigh of relief out of me; up until that point, it had been impossible not to notice the giant screen on the wall opposite the breakfast table, upon which was the projected image of four empty chairs -- one would assume, the places where our esteemed panelists would soon be sitting. At one point, I wondered if they'd just keep us happily noshing while, somewhere far removed from the riff-raff, Bohrman and company addressed us via teleconference. Either way, the sight of those four empty chairs looming over me and my fellow guests as we snacked was more than a little unnerving. I kept waiting for the faces of the Kryptonian High Council to suddenly appear, bellow that we were all "GUILTY" and banish us to the Media Phantom Zone.
I was the guiltiest man in the room, after all.
But as I joined the herd pushing into the next room -- as I readied myself to come face to face with one of CNN's most powerful news managers -- I wondered if I was the only one who knew it.
I followed the crowd of a couple hundred into the conference room proper, and the first thing I noticed was the view.
In what seemed to be a deliberate effort to further impress upon the attendees of the "Time Warner Conversations on the Circle: Internet and News" seminar just who the hell they were dealing with, the guest seating for the event faced toward the giant floor-to-ceiling windows which made up one entire wall. Opposite the glass was a panorama of the West Side of Manhattan that was even more breathtaking than anything we'd seen previously. I made my way over to the far side of the room and took a comfortable seat in the third row, the raised platform and four empty panelist chairs now no longer a projected image on a screen but a three-dimensional reality just a few feet in front of me. I reached into my bag, pulled out a reporter's notebook and waited for the discussion to begin -- or at least for security to realize the mistake that had been made and forcibly escort me out of the building.
Thankfully, the former happened before the latter.
David Bohrman was introduced as an award-winning producer and the "inventor" of the CNN/YouTube debates by a grinning representative from Time Warner who then flitted away to grab a seat directly in front of the dais. Even for a company flack, the rep seemed a little too eager to be there -- particularly so early in the morning; as I watched him adjust his front-row seat, I found myself waiting to see if he'd suddenly produce a clear, watermelon-proof tarp with which to cover himself. My split-second reverie was broken by the sound of Bohrman's voice in front of me and booming from the speakers overhead, drawing my attention back to the stage.
Besides maybe salesman-of-the-month at a Hummer dealership, David Bohrman looks like he could only be one of a few things: the unhealthily stressed-out head of a newsroom, a noticeably overindulgent corporate shill, or the manager of a political campaign. The fact that he is, in reality, all three should come as no surprise to anyone. Bohrman's a large man, with a hairline that's receded to just about the very top of his head and a well-groomed salt-and-pepper beard. He wears thin-framed eyeglasses that all but vanish against his prodigiously round face, as well as the kind of suspenders and J.C. Penney tie combo that make it seem as if he's purposely attempting to be a walking promotion for Larry King Live. Bohrman would be intimidating if he weren't such a damn news cliché in the Jerry Nachman vein, only infinitely more acquiescent to the hatchet men in the adminisphere. His claim to fame when it comes to supposedly bringing CNN into the 21st century is twofold: He was the chief architect of The Situation Room -- that daily sonic onslaught and tribute to the short-attention span -- and of course, he was, as was previously touted and would be throughout the length of the event, the "inventor" of the CNN/YouTube debates. (For the record, to hear CNN refer to these debates and their place in history, you'd have thought the things had cured cancer and aligned the planets.)
Bohrman quickly took a seat, leaning back to allow everyone an inescapable glimpse at the desperate effort the buttons down the belly of his shirt were undertaking to avoid popping off one-by-one into the crowd. I started to wonder if I should've brought my own tarp. He introduced the rest of the panel, the members of which were all conspicuously younger than him: There was Nadira Hira of Fortune magazine, and, as we'd find out, the group's designated "Gen-Y" expert; Steve Grove, head of news and politics for YouTube (also, "the cute one"); and Michael Scherer, a Washington bureau correspondent for Time magazine who appeared, at least from where I was sitting, to be wearing a clip-on tie.
Bohrman started in almost immediately, posing the burning question "what is the internet?" to no one in particular. His own answer was hilariously ironic in its anachronism, given the subject matter.
"It reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live skit that asks, 'Is it a dessert topping or a floor wax? It's both!' Well that's kind of like the internet."
In my notes, I jotted down:
INTERNET = DESSERT TOPPING, FLOOR WAX
What I didn't bother writing down -- because I knew I'd remember it -- was that Bohrman started things off by referencing a gag that had been on TV at least three years before anyone on the panel was even born. It was readily apparent that this kind of just-not-getting-it would be standard operating procedure throughout the discussion -- at least as far as the CNN end of things was concerned.
For the next 20 minutes or so, the panel pontificated on the role of the internet not simply in politics in general, but in this particular presidential race. Hira, once again possessing a virtuosic grasp of "kids these days," brought up Obama's popularity on Facebook and compared the Obama campaign's use of the web and the McCain camp's to the Yankees taking on a little league team. Upon realizing that someone had broached the Facebook phenomenon, Bohrman interjected and reacted with surprise that people could actually forge any sort of meaningful bond with someone who's nothing more than a flat presence on a computer screen, then drew the only analogy he could, saying that a lot of people feel the same kind of connection to Wolf Blitzer.
"He's like a Facebook friend," he said.
I found myself wondering how Wolf would respond if I Superpoked him.
Bohrman then once again brought up the CNN/YouTube debates, just in case anyone had forgotten about them within the last two minutes.
What seemed to outright shock David Bohrman the most, however, was the notion that the panelists -- this new breed of journalists -- actually interacted with their audience, and did so free of many of the constraints that had previously been carefully put in place to shield both the members of the media and the organizations for which they worked. Bohrman may be a trailblazer when it comes to updating the philosophical mindset of the mainstream media, but both the technology and its true impact on what journalists do and what's expected of them is still well beyond his grasp. As I sat listening to him, I realized that likely without meaning to be, he was almost comically arrogant in his apparent belief that the multifarious corporate media giants could embrace the technology needed to thrive in the new world, yet still preserve the single most important necessity to their bottom line: control. Over and over again, the young panelists hammered home the fact that the internet has brought with it an unprecedented level of transparency in our society and culture, particularly when it comes to media organizations, and that the upcoming generation can smell marketed bullshit a thousand miles away, even through a broadband line. Bohrman, meanwhile, seemed to cling to the idea that the heavily-controlled CNN "brand" could translate perfectly to all forms of new media -- that those who are relying more than ever on the internet for their information will trust a big-profit-driven news organization without question the same way they did when they, quite frankly, had no other choice.
As the discussion went on, Bohrman seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand of an outdated way of thinking. He dismissed The Daily Show and defended the top-down model of information dissemination, which basically dictates that the organizations at the supposed pinnacle of the media carry the most authority. By the same token, he belittled -- probably inadvertently -- the news gatherers and aggregators at the forefront of the new media revolution, saying that the stories they break can be judged by whether or not they "percolate up" to the major networks -- whether the king-makers on TV and in print deem them worthy of a place within their hallowed ranks.
At one point, Bohrman even mentioned his excitement at reading a column on The Huffington Post which linked back to, of course, CNN.com -- ostensibly proving his point.
It was right about then that my hand shot up.
For the next 45 minutes, I sat quietly as Bohrman looked directly at me -- meeting my gaze several times -- but never called on me. This, despite the fact that there were rarely more than a half-dozen hands raised at any given moment as the forum morphed into a question and answer session.
I continued to take notes and continued to keep my hand up, but was strangely by-passed over and over again. Whether Bohrman was aware of just who I was personally and/or my status as an ex-CNN employee and current troublemaking blogger I couldn't tell (although I'd bet that if he reads HuffPost, he's familiar with me in name if nothing else). One thing's for sure though: The conference wrapped up without me being able to ask my question.
Which is why, as the event ended and invited guests began making their way toward the doors, I stood up and headed in the direction of David Bohrman.
"Hi, Dave, my name's Chez Pazienza," I said, smiling and extending my hand. "I don't know if you know who I am -- I used to be a producer here at CNN."
He returned my smile and handshake, but seemed distracted. Later, while leaving the building, I'd call my friend and fellow ex-CNNer Jacki Schechner, who used to work closely with Bohrman, and ask her if he was always so nervous and twitchy; she'd say no.
"I'm just curious," I asked, my eyes glued to the face atop his towering frame, "you mentioned reading The Huffington Post and said you were thrilled to see links there leading back to CNN's website. Do you ever read the comments from HuffPost readers whenever someone writes about CNN or, I hate to use this term, corporate media in general?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, they're not usually very complimentary. A lot of people who get their news from the internet are doing it because they don't trust you guys anymore."
He shifted on his feet, his eyes darting well above my head before finding their way back to me. "I don't know -- I mean, I don't think that's true."
"My question I guess is, do you feel at all like CNN as a television organization -- your 'brand' -- is in competition with new media? How do you fight the perception that there's something very wrong with the mainstream media in this country?"
He paused for a moment, then gave me a relaxed smile. "I think organizations like CNN complement new media. There's a symbiotic relationship between the two. We don't see new media as some kind threat."
And with that final word, he took a step back, giving me the international symbol for polite dismissal.
"Alright, thanks for talking to me, Dave -- I appreciate it," I said, then, just for the hell of it, threw him a curveball: "By the way," I smiled, "Jacki Schechner says hi."
See, Bohrman was Jacki's immediate supervisor during her time as a CNN internet reporter, and despite having hired her, he was either unwilling or unable to take a stand in the face of network president Jon Klein's decision to fire her last August -- which might prove better than anything I witnessed at the "Conversations on the Circle" forum that both he and CNN have no idea what matters to those who subscribe to the internet ethos, as Jacki Schechner knows the blogosphere inside and out and was an incalculable asset to an organization attempting to assert its new media dominance.
Either way, I knew she'd be a sore subject, and watching Bohrman suddenly falter and fidget restlessly at the mention of her was even more satisfying than the look on Bryan Bell's face when I first walked in the door.
"Oh, well," he sputtered. "Yeah, I really miss her." He adjusted his shirt and ran his palms down the front of his pants.
"I'll tell her you said that," I said with a smile, turning and walking away.
Less than 60 seconds later, I was back where I'd been for the four months since being fired: outside the Time Warner Center and beyond the purview of CNN and mainstream media in general.
As I silently wandered the massive shopping area directly under the Time Warner Center's glacial blackened glass towers, I did my best to figuratively pat myself on the back for being willing to go back into the belly of the beast and face whatever I found there -- to stick to the ideals that might've gotten me fired in the first place.
I'd made it inside and back out again. I was safe.
So, to celebrate, I took the escalator up to the Bouchon Bakery and rewarded myself with a sandwich and a bowl of soup -- which I paid for with the unemployment debit card issued to me by the state of New York.