the briefing. A play in one act
By STUART WADE [From Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, reprinted this month in
– – – –
(Setting: small conference room of a large business hotel. Several
dozen REPORTERS are crowded into the cramped space. At the rear of the
media horde, about a dozen television cameras stand on tripods, with
TV lights shining across to illuminate the single SPOKESPERSON who
stands behind a microphone-strewn lectern to address the group.)
– – – –
We all know that there’s a specific piece of information in question
here. And with regard to it, let me first state that I know you all
would like for me to say what we all think I’m coming before you to
say. I would like to make it very clear, however, that I do not intend
to say it. In addition, I will neither confirm nor deny it. So now
that we all understand each other, are there any questions?
Will you say what we want you to say?
Not exactly as you would have me say it. [pointing to REPORTER 2] Yes
— over there?
Is the thing we all want you to say, in fact, true?
I’m not saying if it is or it isn’t. It would be premature to judge
Since you’re not saying the precise thing we all want you to say, will
you say it, but in a slightly different way?
You mean in a way that would have the same meaning as the way you
would all want me to say it?
That is correct.
I’m not prepared at this time to do that. [making eye contact with
REPORTER 4] Yes?
If you won’t say what we all would like you to say, or if you won’t
say it in a slightly different way, will you at least say one or a
couple of parts of what we all want you to say?
If there is a situation where that would become prudent for me to say
part or parts of what you all want me to say, I would, yes. But now is
not the time.
When will it be time?
I don’t know the answer to that. I wanted to add something at this
point, before we continue. There are some people involved behind the
scenes with this thing who deserve to be recognized for all their hard
work. This thing has been a team effort all the way, and thanks to
them, a real win-win situation as well. [pointing to REPORTER 6] Yes,
This information that we all want you to disclose — might one of us
be able to trick you into divulging what we all want you to say?
If I am slow-witted at that moment, or if I’m not being too careful in
choosing my words right then, and if one of you people displays
extremely shrewd questioning skills, then yes, it is possible.
[shielding his eyes] Yes — all the way in the back there…you, Miss.
I think I know the information we all want you to say but that you
aren’t saying, and here it is [she says something inaudible]. Isn’t
[angrily] Do you expect me to answer that? Next question.
When can we expect you to say what we all want you to say?
Can you be more specific?
Well, we are expediting this process so I would imagine sooner than
you might think, but I don’t want to mislead any of you as to exactly
when. [indicating silver-haired woman seated in front row of media]
I heard some experts giving their opinions about the information we
all want you to say. Can you respond to these expert comments?
Well, I can’t speculate on others’ comments. And, I’m not an expert.
[looks up to assembled throng] I have time for one more question. In
the middle there, yes — you sir? [points to bearded man standing in
center of group].
Might I interject a witty comment at this juncture to break up the
tension? [says something inaudible]