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The television coverage of the Souls' accomplishment as the first sixth grade team to compete in the Academic Bowl is a farce. The Souls are completely overlooked in the face of Dr. Rohmer's political posturing.
Dr. Rohmer, the County District Superintendent of Schools, calls a press conference before the Souls' trip to Albany to compete in the Academic Bowl. His motivation is completely self-serving; he "hunger(s) for 'positive taxpayer feedback'". Holly Blackwell, "the popular anchorwoman of Channel Three Eyewitness News", accepts his invitation. The Souls, Mrs. Olinski, the principal Mrs. Laurencin, and Mr. Fairbain, the Deputy Superintendent in Charge of Instruction, attend.
The Souls are arranged behind Dr. Rohmer "like a backdrop". Holly Blackwell addresses the Souls directly only once, and in a very condescending manner. When Nadia responds straightforwardly and honestly, cutting through the anchorwoman's patronizing tone, Holly turns her back on the Souls and instructs the cameraman "to pan across their faces occasionally but to focus on Dr. Rohmer". Holly asks Mrs. Olinski only one question, about how she chose her team, but Mrs. Olinski's answer ends up on the cutting room floor.
Mr. Fairbain is under strict orders from Dr. Rohmer "to smile a lot and say nothing except 'The taxpayers are very proud'". He is not to refer to the Souls in any way other than to emphasize how proud the taxpayers are of them. Dr. Rohmer's strategy backfires when Holly asks Mr. Fairbain how the trip to Albany would be financed. Following Dr. Rohmer's directive, Mr. Fairbain responds that "the taxpayers are very proud"; thus, to Dr. Rohmer's embarrassment, providing "the only real news that came out of the news conference" (Chapter 9).
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