Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blitzer: A fabled situation in the Situation Room



…Or Breaking (Up) News at CNN

The historic news was first reported at 4:23 p.m. Eastern Standard Time by

Wolf Blitzer in CNN’s Situation Room:

“We have just learned here in the CNN Situation Room, right here, where news is arriving at our desk every second, that King Henry the Eighth of England, the powerful European monarch – some say the most powerful - will ask Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon. We are now in touch with all of our far-flung correspondents to update what is developing as a major international church and state crisis. It’s happening now….”

The gravity of Blitzer’s report was made all the more colossal by a banner across the bottom of the TV screen that announced: BREAKING NEWS…King Appeals to Pope to annul marriage. Will he succeed?”

A solemn Blitzer, assuming his official authoritative stance with a firm grip on a pad of standard blank paper and a pencil (pen?), calls in poker-faced John King, CNN’s chief national correspondent, and asks:

“John, what can you tell us about this amazing turn of events that is happening right now, as we speak in the CNN Situation Room?”

“It’s not entirely clear, Wolf,” King says soberly as he stands in front of a large graphic showing Henry on one side and the Pope on the other, each with an arrow pointing at the other, separated only by a large question mark. “What we do know of this stunning event is that Henry has not been at all happy that Catherine hasn’t given him a male heir to the throne, which, as I have been told, has clearly violated their prenuptial agreement…”

Blitzer: “That much is clear enough in this utterly complicated international clash of titans that we are reporting from the CNN Situation Room.”

“Right, Wolf. And so that our audience may better understand the potentially grave consequences of this clash of titans, I've been told that Clement was one of the Medici popes and has the power of that family behind him. I am getting reports from the international community that there can be no winner in such an explosive showdown – none whatsoever. So whether Henry will be able to convince –“

“Sorry to break in, John,” Wolf blurts, his voice rising in the energy of the moment, “but we have our Tony Maddox , managing director of CNN International which brings you news from around the world to our Situation Room right here, standing by in London. He has just talked to some members of the Royal Court.


“Tony, hi. What can you tell us about this amazing turn of events in church-state relationships that we are reporting exclusively from here at the CNN Situation Room?”

“Hi, Wolf. Well, as you might expect, there are a lot of candles burning at the king’s several palaces tonight as the story is making its rounds. Some members of the court are already characterizing it as the king’s ‘great matter’ - a term, of course, in the interest of accuracy, that should be written with quotation marks around it. This much we do know: He is relying heavily on Cardinal Wolsey, his old friend and chancellor, to work out a deal with the Holy Father that would free the king from his marriage contract with Kate. For complicated technical reasons, I have been told by royal insiders, the king doesn’t believe the marriage was ever consummated. But how do you prove a negative to the Pope? However, Tom Wolsey knows his way around as Henry’s confidant and lobbyist but he wlll most certainly face big – enormous - odds on this one.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, for one thing , the papacy doesn’t look kindly on divorces. It’s still the 16th Century over here and it’s a big deal with Catholics, you know, even though recent polls here have the Brits splitting evenly on the issue. There have been rumors for some time that the king has his eyes and possibly even his heart set on marrying a young woman named Anne Bolling or Boland, or something like that, and that he has enlisted an old pro like Tom Wolsey to do the heavy lifting for him. You know, somebody he can trust in delicate matters such as this one.”

“Is there a back story to all of this that gives the king the notion that he can pull this off?

“Well, it has something to do with some questions surrounding his marriage to Kate, who had been married briefly to Hank's brother, Arthur, requiring a special dispensation from Pope Julius the Second for Henry’s marriage because there is something in church law about marrying your sister-in-law ---I'm not really all the way up to speed on this yet.

---- “That makes sense, I guess.”

“ Really I’m not clear on all of this. In fact it can be quite complicated. And it will take some time to look into the subtext for our American audience and shake out a few more details.”

“Wow. I can see that. We’ll try to get some transparency to this from someone at one of the Catholic universities.... And where is the brother?”

“Oh, he died. Natural causes, which doesn’t happen that often with royalty. Perhaps we should do a little more bio on him. But in the meantime –“

“Sorry to cut in on you, Tony, but I’m told we’re going to go to Alessio Vinci, our man in Rome for this unprecedented breaking story that is happening right now as I speak to you from the CNN Situation Room.”

“Hi, Wolf. Buona sera from Bella Roma.”

“Good day, sir, to you, too. I know it’s getting close to midnight there, Alessio. But did you manage to talk to anybody to get a reaction to King Henry’s extraordinary back-channel appeal to the Holy Father?”

“Yes, it is getting rather late, Wolf. There’s a six-hour time difference, you know. But while I wasn’t able to hook up for an audience with the Pope, who retires early, I did speak to one of his assistants, a Father Tucci, who said the matter is being closely watched but that it was unlikely that anyone would wake up the Holy Father for a statement tonight. Who knows, Wolf? This is Italy. All of the soccer games have ended and the trattorias are winding down. Maybe more tomorrow,”

“Thank you very much, Alessio for that exclusive report. We will await further word from Rome. Meantime, I have been advised that we have Christiane Amanpour standing by in Madrid…(PAUSE) …Oh, there you are, Christiane. Hi…”

“Hi, amigo…”

“Tell me, how is this extraordinary story playing in Madrid, considering that, if I’m not mistaken, Catherine of Aragon is the daughter of Queen Isabella. I’m right about that, am I not? At least that’s what I’ve been told. And what does that mean for relations between England and Spain?”

“Yes, Wolf. She is the daughter of Queen Isabella. But I can’t offer much more at this time because I just flew in from Cairo and heard about this at the airport on my cell phone from Candy Crowley in Waco. But I can tell you this much, Isabella will not be pleased to learn that her daughter has been thrown under the proverbial bus by the king. Everywhere I look at the airport I see a lot of grim faces. Spain is not Italy.“

“Well, we will talk again with you, Christiane, to be sure. But now we are going to talk with our CNN political analyst Bill Schneider who just arrived right here at the CNN Situation Room with something to tell us….Hi, Bill. Thanks for stopping by as big things are happening right now as we continue to receive reports in the Situation Room.”

“Hi, Wolf.”

“How do you think this will play out politically in the United States?”

“Well, according to our exit poll at the U.S. Senate dining room, the king is not faring well with this issue. That, I suppose, is natural. No senator wants to support a monarch who is suspected of being an adulterer these days, what with all of the problems that some politicians are having in Washington these days. I'm told the king has his eye on a great-looking young woman, Anne Bolden? It's a delicate give and take on Capitol Hill. America, as you well know, is not England.”

“No, it’s not…”

“Correction: I believe her name is Balloon.”

“Anyway, we’ll know more tomorrow after our overnight poll of voters around the country, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.372. But I rather think –“

“Sorry to cut in on you, Bill, but Candy Crowley is standing by with the Archbishop of Dallas. CNN is only trying to be thorough about this apparent torrid love affair in the Royal Court.”

“No problem, Wolf,” Candy says. “ Yes, I do have Archbishop James Oble with me. What can you tell me about this, Archie?”

“Well, Candy we really don’t know anything more than what we’ve been hearing from the Situation Room. You people do a fine job. But there is no doubt in my mind that the story is true. Henry is a lecherous old fool. You can see it in his eyes. So I want to leave it right there without trying to speculate further on a torrid love affair that surely exists.”

“That makes sense, father,” Wolf cuts in. “Is it OK to call you father?”

“Please do."

“Thanks, Candy. I do want to remind our viewers that we will have a two-hour special at 10 p.m. tonight on this really huge issue that is rocking the free world. For those of you who tuned in late, I will repeat: King Henry VIII wants to have his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon – the daughter of Queen Isabella and aunt of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V – annulled to enable him to marry his beautiful pregnant young lover.

“Now we will return to other breaking news from around the world that is happening right now as we speak in the CNN Situation Room.... Brittney Spears…”

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