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A Spot of Tea and The FishbowlDC Interview With the Guardian’s Richard Adams

Say hello to the Guardian‘s Richard Adams, who blogs on U.S. politics and culture from the publication’s Washington bureau. “I’ll just get some tea,” he says politely in his British clip when we met recently at a tea house by the White House. He carries a Financial Times under his arm — his kind of rag since he started out there “after University” covering currencies and bond markets. The Brits can claim Adams as one of their own. At the Guardian since 2001, he is officially a British citizen, though he hails from New Zealand where he was born and raised. Adams shares his name Richard Adams, author of the children’s novel Watership Down, which wrecks havoc on his self Google searches. “He’s really old, really nah-sty,” Adams quips. “He has this thing where animals are pure and good whereas people are horrible.” Adams rather likes people – some people. “I watched the Brady Bunch growing up,” he says. “Completely weird. I didn’t understand a lot.” He says he most identified with Alice, the maid.

He isn’t a huge fan of Washington. “It’s rather clean and well organized,” he says, noting his move here in 2006. “But it’s also a very transient place. It’s a one-industry town and that industry is bullshit.” But he calls it “paradise” for reporters: “It’s a good place to be a journalist. For some reason it’s a bad place to be a human being.” I ask about the Royal Wedding. “I’m not the least bit excited about it,” he says. “We think the monarchy should be abolished. [By "we" he means The Guardian.] I really don’t give a shit about the Royal Wedding.”

Moving on. What’s his daily reading diet? It’s Twitter, he says sheepishly. “I know that makes me sound like a 15-year-old.” From there he moves to the NYT, but says a person can’t escape Politico, which he claims is embarrassingly eating WaPo‘s lunch. “They mug you,” he deadpans, rolling his eyes. He dabbles in WSJ and The Economist. On Sunday he flocks to the NYT wedding section.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Beer

How often do you Google yourself? Never. There’s a novelist named Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down, and he has the first 10,000 entries on Google. Occasionally I get sweet emails from schoolchildren saying how much they like the book.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor? I once slagged off my news editor to a colleague on the tube in London, unaware he was sitting beside us reading a newspaper. He took it rather well. The walk from the station to the office was awkward. [Translation of slag is: to be rude.]

Who is your favorite working journalist? I wish I could write like Michael Kinsley. Otherwise, Edith Zimmerman.

Who would you rather have dinner with – First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? Sarah Palin. Of course.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? “Alert”

What word do you routinely misspell? Washignton

What swear word do you use most often? You’re asking a British journalist?

What word or phrase do you overuse? Awesome

What’s your dream job? Six months as Editor of the Washington Post. I’d turn it around.

What TV show do you have to watch? Project Runway. It’s awesome. (He also likes The Office, 30 Rock, Law & Order UK on BBC America, Al Jazeera, and Japanese NHK.)

Where do you shop most often for your clothes? In theory, Jil Sander. In practice, J Crew.

Whom do you prefer for daytime talk, Dr. Phil, Ellen, Oprah, Tyra or the women of The View? The View. I think it’s a really clever format. [Who’s his favorite female host?] “It’s not Elizabeth Hasselbeck, he says. “Barbara Walters presides over it with a regal presence, which I quite like.”

Pick one: Leno, Letterman or Conan? They’re all rubbish.

If you were trapped on a deserted island, which public official would you want to be trapped with and why? Chris Christie. Because if things went badly wrong, I could eat him.

What’s the best advice you ever received in the course of your career? Always be nice to people over the phone, because you never know. That was from Robert Thomson, when he was at the FT.

Find out Adams’ most embarrassing moment after the jump. It involves blood…

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? The time I interviewed someone forgetting I had a piece of bathroom tissue stuck to a bloody shaving cut on my face. I wondered why she kept looking at me like that. [He can’t remember who he was interviewing, but it was a very attractive Australian tennis player.] I was young, stupid.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy least? An interview with the coach of a rugby team before a big game. My first question was “How do you think the game’s going to go?” and he said ‘I’ll tell you after it’s over.’ It went downhill from there.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy most? I interviewed a horse once. It was smarter than the rugby guy.

When and why did you last lose your temper? It involved computers. So, yesterday.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Meryl Streep

Name some jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. I worked in a vinegar factory once. It was good preparation for journalism.

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good. Is journalism DOOMED?

Who should just call it a day? Thomas Friedman, now he’s moved into self-parody.

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