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Why Obama Gave First Interview To Al Arabiya

From CNN’s “The Situation Room” today:

    WOLF BLITZER. CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now, the man who conducted that interview with the president of the United States, Hisham Melhem. He’s the Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya, and also a good old friend.

    Hisham, congratulations on getting this.


    BLITZER: How did you get the first sitting television interview with the new president of the United States?

    MELHEM: I guess sheer luck and dogged work. You know, I applied like everybody else and trying to push when he was elected. Also, I pushed really hard after I realized that he was going to address the Muslim world during his first 100 days in office.

    And I think a combination of things happened: Gaza, the appointment of George Mitchell, the closing of Guantanamo. And I think there was a debate over the weekend at the White House that — whether the president should give an interview at this time to the Arab and Muslim world.

    And then I was told, much to my own gratification, that when the debate was over about the interview, there was no debate about to whom he should give it.

    BLITZER: And they decided Al Arabiya, which is an Arabic language television station seen throughout the Middle East, that was the place to go as opposed to Al Jazeera, for example?

    MELHEM: Absolutely.

    BLITZER: Why?

    MELHEM: Well, I think — I mean, I’d like to take some credit myself, but also I think they believe that we give them a fair play. I mean, they — I mean, definitely I know the difference between being critical and being hostile, definitely can be critical and do your job professionally.

    And we have credibility. People watch us. And we don’t have an agenda.

    And I think they realized that it will be seen — that we will treat it credibly.

Evans-Novak Folds, Carney To Examiner

From the Washington Examiner:

    The Washington Examiner announced today that Timothy P. Carney, who has been writing a weekly op-ed column for the paper, was joining the staff full time to oversee a new K Street page.

    Carney will write a lobbying column for the weekly page, which will make its debut in two weeks. He also will continue his Friday op-ed column.

    “Most reporters write about how much money lobbyists make and what great access they have,” said Stephen G. Smith, editor of The Washington Examiner. “Tim writes about how they affect, and sometimes distort, the legislative process.”

    Carney comes to The Examiner from Eagle Publishing, where he succeeded Robert Novak as editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report and served as a book editor at Regnery Publishing. He is also the author of the 2006 book “Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money.”

The Evans-Novak Political Report launched in 1967 by Rowland Evans and Bob Novak, is now folding. After Novak’s illness forced his retirement, the reins were handed over to Carney. With the personnel changes and the market changes, Eagle has decided to retire the publication.

Downie Pushes “Rules”

“In D.C., there are rules about everything… and everyone breaks at least one rule. The question is, how far can you go?”

-A question posed by Len Downie, the former executive editor of The Washington Post.

Downie made an appearance at the Politics & Prose bookstore on Monday night to discuss the inspiration for his first novel, “The Rules of the Game.” After publishing four non-fiction books related to journalism, Downie felt that fiction would be “a way to express [his] feelings about… [his] interesting experiences in Washington.”

Writing about what he knows best, Downie drew on his eventful career with the Post for his novel. One character even references Deep Throat, a self-referential bit of irony; Downie was an editor involved in the Watergate reporting. (Woodward and Bernstein gave the novel two thumbs up.)

He also described threatening 4am phone calls from an anonymous “military-sounding” caller, pressuring him to cease stories about Oliver North during the Iran-Contra affair for the sake of “national security.” A character in the novel receives similar calls to cease an investigation related to defense contracting.

Besides promoting his book, Downie will be traveling around the country to speak about the future of the media.

“A number of people wanted me for speaking engagements,” he joked, “so I agreed to come if they’d do a book event.” After that he’ll spend the next year working on a project at Columbia University about the future of funding for journalism, before teaching at Arizona State University.

(Thanks to Tiffany March for this report)

Ifill Overwhelmed By Response To Book

Brawner’s Expecting

From the Washington Times:

    Greta Brawner, morning host of C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” and one of Esquire magazine’s “Women We Love” in 2007, has confirmed to the Washington Times that she and her husband, William Brawner Jr., are expecting their first child.

Sally Quinn Trims Her Inbox

Based on this internal Washington Post email chain sent to FishbowlDC, looks like Sally Quinn would rather not know about which Washington Post folks are doing TV … and whether things are spelled correctly.

    From: Sally Quinn
    To: [lots of Washington Post emails we've removed from this post]
    When: 01/27/2009 10:53 AM
    Subject: Re: THE RUNDOWN- January 27, 2009

    Ease ake me off your email list

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

What was she responding to? After the jump…

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No Green For VF Green Issue?

A FishbowlDC tipster hears that Vanity Fair may have to spike its “Green” issue (due to hit newsstands in May), because of “issues with advertising”…

Benicio del Toro Walks Out of WaTimes Interview

From the Washington Times:

    A controversial new biopic about Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara is awakening old passions and provoking vigorous defenses and denunciations of the iconic revolutionary and – in the case of an interview with The Washington Times – a dramatic walkout.

    “I’m getting uncomfortable,” Benicio del Toro said after fielding a question about his new movie’s portrayal of the Bolivian and Cuban revolutions. “I’m done. I’m done, I hope you write whatever you want. I don’t give a damn.”

    With that, the Oscar-winning actor walked away, abruptly terminating an interview conducted late last week to discuss director Steven Soderbergh’s “Che.”

But the Washington Times isn’t insulted — they put the walkout article on the front-page.

Sikka Named EP of “Morning Edition”

Madhulika Sikka has been named Executive Producer of NPR’s Morning Edition. Ms. Sikka joined NPR in 2006 as supervising senior producer of Morning Edition, and was promoted to deputy executive producer in 2008.

Earlier gigs for Sikka include ABC News’ Nightline, World Monitor Television, CBS News and NBC News.

Morning Reading List, 01.27.09


Good morning Washington.

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We’ve got your morning mix of media Muesli after the jump…

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