“There is no way they did this in Tampa,” the 20-something man quipped to me in the courtyard of The EpiCentre.
It is 4 o’ clock or so, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has just taken the stage/set that MSNBC erected in the shopping center. The crowd, around 150 strong, starts erupting into wild cheers, save for one older gentleman towards the back of the throng, who was booing very loudly.
Matthews was just taping a brief live-shot, but the crowd was excited. Even as it started to rain (and it really started to rain, watch the video below) a few dozen people stayed in their spots right behind the anchor desk, simply putting up their umbrellas, while the crew covered the equipment with tarps and closed off the set with plastic.
Finally, at 4:50, the main event began. Matthews again emerged from MSNBC’s workspace and walked to the set, and again there were cheers. Also getting loud cheers when they appeared on stage: Jesse Jackson, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and NBC’s Chuck Todd. Yes, this was clearly a wonky crowd.
As “Hardball” continued through the 5 PM hour, the crowd outside seemed to keep growing, swelling to about 400 on the three levels of the EpiCentre that overlook the stage. “Who is that?” one woman asked her friend as they walked by. “Oh, I think it’s Chris O’Donnell,” said her friend, who meant to say Lawrence O’Donnell.
Towards the end of the hour, some of Bloomberg TV folks decided to have a little fun. As rain again
started to fall, they all opened up their big, purple umbrellas with the Bloomberg logo prominently displayed on the side. There must have been at least eight or nine of them standing together.
A check of the tape showed that their prank didn’t seem to make it on air. They were just off-camera.