thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Friday, October 21, 2005
So you are trying to interview someone reasonably famous. You are not used to doing it and you know there is going to be a scrum to get near him. How would you like to approach such a day?

It certainly wouldn't be the way I did it, which was nursing a bad hangover. Not only that but at the campsite I had cracked my rib tripping over a tent rope and hitting a picnic table the previous evening. I then slept outside with no sleeping bag (its cold in Scotland). I had to go the campsite because I was so drunk I missed the last bus home. In short, I was not on top form.

G8 alternatives were hosting a massive political meeting in Edinburgh. Scott Ritter, Bianca Jagger, George Galloway, George Monbiot, Danny Schechter and so many others were coming to speak. I had a press pass and wanted to speak to a lot of them but I hadn't really done any hack work before. In truth I found the whole thing fairly demeaning, scrambling toward people you don't know begging to be spoken to. I will do interviews again, but not the press pack scramble.

I had my first experience of this earlier in the day (when the hangover was worse) and lots of journalists were trying to get a piece of George Monbiot (there is a link to his site here). I lost heart in the venture very quickly. The mainstream media journalists were more or less giving him abuse and I ended up taking sides and giving him a question he could attack rather than defend. I can't remember exactly what I asked him, it was something like "do you think the corporate greenwash[i] so widely disseminated in the mainstream media is damaging to the public debate?" That was one he could have a go at so I sat back, didn't take notes and just enjoyed the looks on the hacks faces as they scowled at me and got abuse from him. Still, I never did get the chance to speak to him afterwards, which was a shame.

Later in the day it was Ritter's turn. He made a speech similar to many I have seen him make before, aggresively criticising US middle east policy. At the end I started to sidle toward the stage as did a few others. People from the audience were coming up and shaking his hand, saying that they really respected what he was doing and so on. I thought the way people were looking at him was odd - almost reverential. They were congratulating him on his bravery. I think some of them thought it was a matter of time till someone shoots him.

His military past was obvious. Someone asked him something and he burst out with "amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics" at which I had to suppress a smile - the way he said it had ex-soldier written all over it.

Then he talked about being a Republican. I asked him that if that was the case how did he feel going round the world criticising Bush et al. He just replied 'he's not a Republican.' I asked him how he felt about the fact that in order to speak publicly about the issues he is raising he most often finds himself in crowds full of radicals and pacifists. He talked about the US constitution and how it was mostly written by one left wing guy and one right wing guy who hated each other and that it is all about freedom of speech and that reasoned debate was one of the things that the US stands for (or at least it used to). I neglected to mention that it was written by 50 white males, the vast majority of which were wealthy landowners and that it semi-legitimised slavery and therefore did not include as much room for debate as is popularly supposed.

Nevertheless, I just turned on Democracy Now! and there he is again, banging on about being an American Patriot but still furiously indignant about the way the US government is conducting itself. As a former UN weapons inspector and marine (I think it was a marine intelligence unit) his insider knowledge almost unrivalled and no one I have seen has been able to prove anything he says false. His courage is an inspiration, even if his some of his political opinions (or historical analyses) aren't things I buy into.

I hope I bump into him again, only without a microphone - and without a hangover.

If you want to see some of what Scott Ritter has said before and after the conflict in Iraq then try these

[i] Disinformation disseminated by an organization, etc., so as to present an environmentally responsible public image; a public image of environmental responsibility promulgated by or for an organization, etc., but perceived as being unfounded or intentionally misleading.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 4:21 pm  
  • At 9:25 pm, Blogger mikevotes said…

    Fascinating description of the press crunch.

    And don't let the hangover hold you back, I would wager that a fair amount of the reporting is probably done in a similar state.

    I think the key to being a big mainstream media person is not if you were hungover, but who you were up drinking with the night before.


  • At 9:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for this post, 'tubthumper' - linked from Mickey Z.'s blog! And you know - a gay blogger, John Aravosis of attended the same meeting of the G8 but did not have anything to say about Ritter's contribution (or anyone else's for that matter)- instead he told his readers about his meeting such celebrities as Richard Branson or Bono. Just had to tell you this.
    Thanks for another great blog - so many blogs and so little time ..
    Helga Fremlin
    Daylesford, Australia

  • At 8:00 am, Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said…

    As a reluctant TV producer I can tell you how ridiculous it feels to see your otherwise sane colleagues squeeze 'answers' from people reasonably (and unreasonably) famous. It's no doubt a kick, a sort I don't fully comprehend. So can quite understand your hesitation.
    More power to you for helping Ritter defend himself!!

  • At 2:56 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…


    it as monbiot i helped tho. i just asked ritter a couple of questions and then left him alonw

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What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?

Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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Thumping The Tub Video

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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

  • Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
  • This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie

  • How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
  • This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song

  • What You Like
  • I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.

  • Imperial Measures
  • What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing

  • Gorillas and us
  • I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams

    Recent Thumping
    Older Thumping

  • spinwatch
  • adbusters
  • internet archive
  • art not oil
  • blairwatch
  • bushflash
  • camcorder guerillas
  • corporate watch
  • campaign for press freedom
  • noam chomsky
  • common dreams
  • counterpunch
  • cost of war
  • david rovics
  • democracy now
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  • the dossier
  • downing street says
  • etims
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  • mixed up records
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  • radio 4 all
  • schnews
  • snow shoe films
  • sourcewatch
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    some of the blogs I look at
    Arse of the month

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    The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..

    It's All Gone Scottish

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    A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.

  • The Scottish Patient
  • Kim Ayres
  • Our Scotland
  • average tosser
  • 1820
  • big stick small carrot
  • J. Arthur MacNumpty
  • World of Jack McConnell
  • The Firefox Chronicles
  • Independence 1st
  • Radio Free Scotland
  • Scots and independent
  • Scottish Independence Guide
  • Small Nation
  • Inveresk Street Ingrate
  • Radical Glasgow
  • Want to Swot?

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    If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.

  • politics and the english language
  • Beyond Hope
  • the gore exception
  • your tax dollars at work
  • a cultural chernobyl
  • choose life (not trainspotting)
  • shooting an elephant
  • a war crime within a war crime...
  • the menace of liberal scholarship
  • the modern era of law
  • naming the problem
  • the four ages of sand
  • a news revolution has begun
  • come september
  • money is the cause of poverty
  • countering corporate power
  • Other Stuff

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