Today Show Blitz
Anti-war and Impeach Bush Message during live Today Show broadcast at Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy
We learned that the NBC Today Show would be shooting live from Piazza Navona in Rome, and it sounded like a good opportunity to get our message on national TV.
On Monday, February 6, Stephanie, Nick, Kathy, Tom, Norm, Ryan, Giuliana and Julienne met at Campo de' Fiori to prepare signs and plan our "appearance". The group then walked over to Piazza Navona where we endured the chilly wind in order to get the anti-war/anti-Bush message across during the morning broadcast of the Today Show.
The underlying theme of the entire production here, and the obvious focus of Couric’s introductions for the show’s co-hosts mediated news back in New York City were, (pray tell me but, what else could it be?) for the happy touristy/commerce-driven crowds – i.e. pasta, cappuccino, upcoming Winter Olympics next week, and the like.
Our reconnaissance mission reported back that they were set up by the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain) and also the best position for our group. However, arriving just after 2pm., we realized they were shooting from various locations for Katie Couric’s presentations including a balcony looking out on the square, which afforded us no opportunities, and over a manhole cover to discuss what “SPQR” means, which was so short we didn't have a chance to act.
We soon realized there were virtually no shots of the crowd and we would need to act quickly to get our message on the air. The next shot was from an outdoor café where Katie Couric was seated with Giada de Laurentiis, granddaughter of the famed director.
We formed a rather compact group off to one side during the “café” site and waited until Couric began speaking whereupon we began our chants "Stop Stop Stop the War" and unfolded our "Hi Mom" signs to reveal IMPEACH BUSH. [see video]
Katie was forced to comment, "Those were some stop the war protesters chanting in case you were wondering what was going on; you see free speech is alive and well here in Italy." But soon we were moved, in a determined but not forceful manner, back and away from the main well-wishing crowd, which numbered about 100 or so.
One of the show's producers, visibly upset, came over and pleaded with us not to further interrupt the show. She told us, "you got your message on the air, will you promised to call it quits?" Kathy asked, "Will NBC promise to cover the next anti-war demonstration?"
The producer went on to say that that wasn't the right place for this sort of thing. An Italian man said, "No, this is the right place. It's a public square. What you guys did was right." She then said "You can't get your message across by shouting. You need to communicate calmly." Stephanie responded, "Give me a mic and I'll explain our position with all the calm you want." The offer was not accepted.
Someone else remarked that this wasn't the right place because it is an entertainment show. Nick replied, "Everything in the U.S. is an entertainment show!"
From that moment, however, interest was generated towards why we were there and more than a few persons approached asking to photograph us with our impeachment signs along with the Peace/USA flag.
One asked to be pictured with us; others thanked us for being there. Cindy Sheehan was to appear later that afternoon at the Campidoglio with the Mayor of Rome and Gino Strada of Emergency, and details for that event were passed on to another couple from Ohio. In fact, most of our group walked over to hear Cindy as a way of topping off a fine day. We had sent word to her that we were planning the blitz and she was pleased to hear we managed to get on the air.
Later, a group of 15 or so young and very friendly French students were particularly interested in us and requested an interview and photographs, which we gladly supplied.Shortly after, Couric rode away in a horse-driven carriage with a studley-looking Italian male. Portions of that video shows Nick’s sign [see video]. Well done, Nick. First Prize!! IMPEACH BUSH can be seen immediately after the map of Italy.
We had fun and got our message on the air. It may seem to some a prank. However, as Kathy pointed out, streaking would have been a prank. We took what we did very seriously. Considering the lack of opposing views on the mainstream media, this was a chance to make our voices heard, and we took advantage of it.
A good day, well done, everybody!!
Tom Fieselmann and Stephanie Westbrook
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Copyright © 2006 Tom Fieselmann and Stephanie Westbrook All rights reserved
U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome, Italy