The news that CNN commentator Roland Martin is getting his own Sunday talk show is a good enough reason for me to tell my Roland Martin story:
You may or may not already know this, but I attended a wildly prestigious J-school, as befits my overall awesomeness and elite status. Part of what made it a fun place to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go was the fact that the school had a working news bureau in downtown Chicago, where student journalists covered actual news events and wrote stories that were published by actual news publications -- not the Trib or the Sun-Times, of course, but by a handful of other, smaller Chicago papers.
I remember the first day of classes in that downtown newsroom. Exciting! We weren't going to do any actual reporting that day, but it was a full, tightly scheduled orientation day with a lot of different parts to it -- tours, explanations of newsroom rules and so on. And one part of that orientation was a talk to the students by then-editor of the Chicago Defender, Roland S. Martin.
Martin is a charismatic guy, and he gave a good talk. Importance of journalism, holding public officials accountable, etc. The thing was: He was very comfortable talking about himself and his profession. He talked and talked. And he exceeded, by some margin, his allotted block of time. The professor whose job it was to shepherd us out of the room and into the next part of orientation -- a great teacher named Jon Ziomek -- was visibly nervous. At some point Martin was going to throw off the entire day's schedule. Ziomek stood up, walked to the front of the room, where he hovered to the side of Roland Martin like a handler about to usher him offstage.
No matter. Roland Martin had more wisdom to impart to us. Kept right on talking.
Finally, Ziomek broke in. "Well, our time here is --"
And Roland Martin said: "Oh, it's okay, I've got time."
For all I know, he realized a split-second after he said it that our professor wasn't actually worried about his time. But to me it was a hilarious moment, the hilarious obliviousness of someone who could listen to himself talk all day long.
I think that must say something about the sort of people who end up making their living as television political pundits.
However I should also say that I have nothing really against Roland Martin as a TV commentator. He is certainly not one of the worst talking heads, and arguably is even in the top half. Maybe his new show will be good!