Sunday, January 13, 2008

Vegas Univision Stages Its Own Obama Rally

Following Friday's Obama rally at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Hall in Las Vegas, I was asked to wait for about a half-hour for an interview I needed with the union leader for some election coverage I'm working on including this piece for the New York Times. So I sat eating Skittles in the press area of the now-empty hall where hundreds of union workers had given Sen. Barack Obama a rousing welcome earlier.

Then I started noticing something odd happening. A reporter for the Spanish-language Univision station, KINC Channel 15, was doing a bit of his own union organizing. He corralled about two dozen union members clad in red Obama T-shirts to crowd around him as he did his live stand-ups for the 6 p.m. news. I don't speak Spanish, but it was obvious that he also instructed folks to go get placards and egged them on to cheer and chant for Obama en Espanol when he was on the air.

Here's what it looked like as he did it:

And this is him on the air, before what to viewers at home must have looked like a wild, enthusiastic and large crowd, a la those shots of crazy sports fans outside the stadium after the big game.

You can see below there's nobody behind these people...

Although TV news folks do things we print people never can, I still thought this was fishy -- and a local ABC reporter also doing a stand-up in the same area seemed visibly annoyed by the whole thing and all the manufactured noise going on behind her. I was right: My own partner, the local NBC executive producer, confirmed that faking a rally for a political candidate in the middle of a hotly contested race (well, anytime) is a serious no-no.

Beyond that, I feel obliged to provide equal coverage to go with my Hillary-eats-guacamole photo essay from Thursday, so here's what the ACTUAL Obama rally looked like:

And, as always, I'm a sucker for pictures cute kids, especially ones with colorful leggings...

...and odd-looking people wearing random pink clothes...

Party on, man!