SCENE: The newsroom at the Star/Tribune.
Laird TORKELSON, political reporter, is sitting at his desk. An ash tray overflows on his desk as TORKELSON, wearing a porkpie hat with a “Press” pass stuck into the hat band and a rumpled dress shirt pecks away at an IBM Selectric.
A push-button desk phone rings. Then rings again. Finally, TORKELSON picks up the phone.
TORKELSON: Newsroom. Torkelson.
(Carrie LUCKING from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is on the line. We hear her through the earpiece)
LUCKING: Hey, Laird. We’ve got some work to do here…
TORKELSON: Hey, Ms. Lucking – I’m kinda busy covering…
LUCKING: Bla bla bla. Did I ask for your biography? Now listen up.
(TORKELSON goes silent)
LUCKING: Four years ago, the Strib did a good job of preventing outstate DFLers from flaking away from the Governor on Second Amendment issues by spinning Mark Dayton as a gun owner.
TORKELSON: That wasn’t me, but OK…
LUCKING: This time, we want to try to get libertarians inside the GOP to flake away from the Republicans.
TORKELSON: Right – we did that earlier this month, with the “Governor Dayton is a Libertarian” meme.
LUCKING: Right. But now the polling is showing the governor in trouble. So we need you to do a little more for us.
TORKELSON: (pulling a notebook from his desk drawer, grabbing a pen). OK, shoot.
LUCKING: Governor Dayton is a black single mother.
TORKELSON: (starts writing) A black… (stops writing) single mother?
TORKELSON: But that’s completely implausible.
LUCKING: (Bursts out in a dry, mirthless chuckle). And “Dayton is a Libertarian” was plausible? Look, I can get you a quote. (LUCKING shouts, presumably across office) Larry! Laird needs a quote!
(TORKELSON, puzzled, waits patiently)
VOICE: Hello, Laird? This is Larry JACOBS
TORKELSON: Oh, hi, Larry. You were visiting Carrie’s office?
TORKELSON: Oh – um, OK. So about this “Dayton is a black single mother” thing, what can you say on the record?
JACOBS (sounding like he’s reading off a cue card): We can’t prove he’s not a black single mother. It’s plausible.
TORKELSON: Er…OK. Thanks, Doctor Jacobs…
(LUCKING takes the phone)
LUCKING: So we can run with that?
TORKELSON: Well, assuming my editor clears space for it…
LUCKING: Already talked to him! Front page, baby!
TORKELSON: Huh. OK. I should have it done by five.
LUCKING: Make it three. Thanks. (Phone clicks dead)
(TORKELSON leans back in his chair, as camera pulls back to a wide shot, showing him in an endless, orderly procession of desks, as the sound of electric typewriters becomes more and more intense.