(From Carrie Dann, NBC Political Unit researcher)
If I'd known that six million people were going to see my front yard on the Today Show this morning, I might have mowed my lawn. WATCH VIDEO
In the wee hours Monday morning, lights flickered on in windows up and down my quiet street in Northwest DC as the neighborhood awoke to clattering outside. Two men, armed with baseball bats, were mercilessly hammering at the windows of the Hummer H2 parked on the street, mere yards away from my front door. The quickly growing string of porch lights sent the vandals sprinting away, leaving behind the car's shattered glass, collapsed tires, and a message scratched into the shiny new paint: "FOR THE ENVIRON."
On Tuesday, the wrecked car prompted clucking tongues from passersby, and a few local reporters prowled around with pen and pad in hand. But by Wednesday morning, the words "eco-terrorism" and "extremist" were being bandied about. And, one by one, the cameras descended on Brandywine Street.
My roommate Margaret was one of the witnesses who woke up on the night of the crime and blearily squinted into her cell phone to call the police. She was just as drowsy when I woke her up early yesterday. "There's a local news producer outside," I told her. "I think he wants your story."
(Full disclosure: the news biz is a tiring one. On the night of the big story, this aspiring journalist slept through the whole commotion. Go figure.)
So, while I was at work at the nearby NBC Washington bureau yesterday, Margaret was getting her big break. She called incredulously to say that our little street, where I live with three friends, was crowded with camera crews and impeccably coiffed local reporters. "And they all want a piece of me!" she laughed.
By the afternoon, one interview had turned into six. One crew had tromped up to Margaret's bedroom to "get her perspective" as a witness to the crime. And the story of the "eco-vandals" who slashed the H2's enormous tires had gained so much traction that a crew from NBC's Today Show went to check it out.
After a year of working in television, I've gotten used to seeing familiar people and places through a camera's lens. But I couldn't help but share in the glee as my housemates huddled in front of the TV to watch Bob Faw's piece on the Today Show. "That's me in the background!" exclaimed our new small-screen star, adding with a tinge of disappointment, "even though I'm all blurry."
"At least our lawn is out of focus too," commented another roommate. "It looks terrible."
The Today Show didn't end up interviewing Margaret, although local newscasts in DC were peppered with her sound bites. She critiqued how some segments took her comments about our unfortunate neighbor's "ostentatious" car out of context, and she objected to the casual use of the word "terrorism" to describe an isolated - if mean-spirited - act. And after our giddy viewing party of Faw's piece this morning, she sobered us all by asking for my oh-so-sage news judgment. "It was fun to see the house on TV, Carrie. But shouldn't you guys be more worried about, like, Iraq? I mean, it's just some guy's car."
Apparently, she's not letting her newfound fame go to her head. Even if the big story was, quite literally, in our own front yard.