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FishbowlDC Interview

FishbowlDC Interview With TPM’s Benjy ‘Paramananda’ Sarlin

Say hello to Benjy Sarlin, who covers politics for Talking Points Memo, where he is readjusting to life after the 2012 election.

His colleague, Evan McMorris-Santoro, says this about Benjy: “Benjy is a Twitter virtuoso. He needs to stop making me look bad by being so good at hashtagery.” But another colleague, Igor Bobic, jokes on Twitter that he’s a “total dick.” (At least we think he’s kidding.)

Previously Benjy reported on national politics for The Daily Beast, where he was Washington correspondent. Born and raised in New York City, he covered city politics for the New York Sun until its untimely death (though, it’s still in shambles with the occasional zombie editorial). To be truthful, we’re still don’t think we’ve gotten to the core of Benjy Sarlin. But we do know a lot of seemingly useless details.  He has an unhealthy attachment to barbecue and Twitter. “Twitter is like my Kryptonite, both the source of my reporting strength and its biggest weakness,” he tells me in an email exchange. “I get annoyed when I see stupid stuff floating around and if you’ve seen something silly pop up in one person’s feed, you’re about to see it everywhere, only worse. It’s fun engaging with people over these little dust ups, but I think I’m irrationally invested.” On the subject of astrology: “I don’t believe in astrology, but I’m willing to be convinced if Nate Silver posts some kind of chart.” Strange hobbies: He insists he is an accomplished juggler. Fine dining: He wants to dine with George Washington (if he could, that is).

Perhaps one of those most interesting things about Benjy is his name and its weird spelling. “My name is almost uniformly misspelled thanks mostly to those dog movies in the 1980s, even by friends and family,” he explains. “‘Benjy’ was the name of my dad’s closest childhood friend, so that’s how I ended up with the particular spelling. My folks are Jewish and you’re not supposed to name someone after a living person, but at the time I was born the original Benjy was in the Hare Krishne and had changed his name to — I believe — Paramananda Das. Since then, he’s left the Hare Krishne and gone back to his old name, so I’m actually not sure if it’s kosher for me to stick with Benjy. Maybe I’ll change my byline to Paramananda Sarlin?”

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

I’d like to think of myself as pre-Schumer Four Loko, but I’m really not hardcore enough to justify it. Let’s go with root beer.

How often do you Google yourself? 

Phsaw, I got alerts for that.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

My first day as an intern out of college, my only task was to set up a device to record a phone interview between an editor and Joe Wilson. I blew it and the whole thing was lost. To the editor it was probably the most minor daily annoyance, but to me I had just screwed up the only real world task I’d ever been assigned about as badly as possible. I was all nerves for a week after that.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? 

Present TPM company excluded (and really, they are the best), I’m a big fan of Molly Ball at The Atlantic. It’s hard to find good campaign reporting that has a broad national scope but also involves talking to actual voters and she’s amazing at tying the two together. Voters have interesting things to say, really!

Do you have a favorite word? 

“Gluttony” is an incredible feat of English language. Say it out loud — gluttony. It sounds exactly like what it means. Aliens could land tomorrow and understand “gluttony” the first time they heard it.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Candy Crowley, ABC’s Martha Raddatz or Fox News’ Megyn Kelly? Tell us why.

Funny enough, I was on the same plane as Candy Crowley on the way back from the final presidential debate last month. We had a coffee while we waited to board and she could not be nicer. I’d just spent the last week talking to Republicans in Florida who were incensed over her mid-debate Benghazi fact check and passed on a couple of choice quotes. I was extremely impressed with the way she handled both the debate itself and the backlash afterwards. She took the complaints against her seriously enough to defend her performance but she had enough perspective to not make herself the story and enough wisdom to know everyone would just move on to the next outrage in a few days time. Which is a long way of saying that I’d be glad to get dinner.

Much more on Benjy after the jump…

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The FishbowlDC Interview With WaPo’s Petri

Say hello to Alexandra Petri. She writes WaPo‘s humor ComPost blog, a gig she has had since graduating from Harvard in 2010.

While in Cambridge, Petri wrote a regular column for the Harvard Crimson for three years and co-wrote two musicals for the school’s theatrical society. She was also president of the Stand-Up Comic Society, which explains her affinity for silly.

After graduating in 2010, she interned for a second time at WaPo, thinking that after it was over, she’d head to Oxford and study Renaissance poetry (she’s aware this sounds like a great idea in this economy). But while interning, she got a chance to write humor, which her editors noticed gained a following. Lo and behold, they offered her a job.

She says she’s “living the dream.”

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be?

Iced coffee that has been somehow carbonated.

How often do you Google yourself?

Only when I’m awake. All joking aside, you know this is a serious problem because one year it was what I gave up for Lent.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

I was always having these awkward moments when the executive editor would walk past just as I was returning a read newspaper to the rack at Caribou Coffee without paying for it. I’m not sure that counts as saying anything, but my awkward scuttle away and his bemused expression both spoke volumes.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Working? As opposed to malfunctioning? I hope you ask about my favorite malfunctioning journalist next! I have lots of those!

I love Gene Weingarten‘s feature writing with the passion of a thousand suns.

[Strangely, FishbowlDC's Peter Ogburn is crouched in a corner screaming from this answer.]

Find out about Petri’s favorite word (it’s a real gas) and the extended New Years Resolution she once had after the jump… Read more

FishbowlDC Interview With Knight Kiplinger

Say hello to Knight Kiplinger, Editor in Chief, Kiplinger publishing (Kiplinger Letters, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, Kiplinger.com). We spoke by phone this morning just after he did his ritualistic yoga exercises. He spends 20 minutes each morning doing stretches and poses to put himself in a good frame of mind. “I don’t watch much TV,” he noted quickly into the call, saying the Fishbowl interview wasn’t necessarily ideal for someone who doesn’t watch a lot of TV. (We’ll keep that in mind.) “I’m not older than dirt, but I came up through newspaper journalism and print journalism so that’s kind of my bias in my news diet.” Asked about the current state of journalism, Kiplinger’s thoughts are enlightening. POLITICO reporters, you may want to stop reading now. “I think we’ve seen the decline of careful consideration, the emphasis is on quick response, the immediate reaction,” Kiplinger said. “The best journalism is not always the fast journalism. The first analysis is often not carefully considered. Good journalism takes time. It takes reporting. We’ve seen a decline of in-depth reporting. A newspaper reporter had eight or ten hours to do hard reporting, deep reporting, talking to many, many sources before writing a story. The internet has forced everyone to work faster and that sometimes undercuts journalistic quality. So that is the problem.” Here’s the point where WaPo‘s Ezra Klein should stop reading. “These days a lot of young journalists, they all want to be columnists, giving the world their opinions,” he said. “Journalists try to build themselves into a brand, into a marketable entity that can move from periodical to periodical. Of course, that’s what columnists have always done.” Kiplinger sees danger signs. “With too much emphasis on celebrity, the content of journalism gets short shrift. A bigger threat to quality journalism is the unwillingness of young adults to pay for journalism. Older adults will still pay for content. They comprise the subscription-paying readership.” Kiplinger still gets two newspapers at home: WaPo and TWT. At the office he reads WSJ and NYT. “I look through them very rapidly,” he says of WaPo and TWT, saying he prefers to read them in print than online and can do so faster. He particularly enjoys WaPo‘s Metro section. He’s also a relentless reader of obituaries. “In my next life I am going to be an obit writer,” he says. Moving along, he has grave concerns about the industry: “Revenue on internet is not sustaining high quality journalism,” he said. But on a positive note, he added, “the internet has given everyone [a medium]…that is a powerful force, a positive force. This trend will continue.” On the future of journalism: “There will be fewer jobs in traditional journalism for young journalists who want to be the reporter, who want to tell the story of modern life. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon. We’re in the throws of a great democratization of media. Editing today is a luxury many media feel they can’t afford. You don’t have the level of trust that you once had. Traditional media were gatekeepers to information. They were the mandarins who selected what they thought the public needed to know.” Kiplinger is on Twitter, but he’s not enthralled by it. “Yeah I tweet,” he said. “If you went to my Twitter account you’d see I tweet infrequently. I try to restrain my tweets to kind of broader observations about things going on in the economy. I work very hard to condense and distill. I don’t have a Twitter support staff as a lot of semi-celebrity journalists do.” As an aside, he notes…“There are some people who think I am a celebrity. I just think I’m an ink-stained wretch. I’m not a hyperactive tweeter.” On family…He’s a longtime choral singer and met his wife in the Washington Chorus in 1979. Incidentally, his daughter also met her fiance in the Washington Chorus (a detail reported in WaPo earlier this week). Facebook? “I don’t do Facebook at all. I don’t think the world is that interested in my daily life, and even if they are, I don’t want to share it with them.” Finally, I asked…what one piece of wisdom should every journalist know? He replied, “There’s no substitute for hard reporting.”

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

Schweppes Tonic Water (with real quinine), my teenage favorite, even before I started adding gin.

How often do you Google yourself?

Rarely (Just noticed they now have photos of the search subject, too!)

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?  

To the owner of the first newspaper I worked for, at 22 years old: “Reporters ought to earn as much as the layout guys with their razor blades and paste pots.”  (He disagreed.)

You have an intriguing name. What is the story behind it?

It was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name (full name: Daphne Knight). No relation to the Knight publishing family, darn it.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal.  No one explains complex economic issues with more clarity and common sense than Wessel.

Do you have a favorite word?

I’m told I overuse “unconscionable,” so maybe that’s it.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Candy Crowley, ABC’s Martha Raddatz or Fox News’ Megyn Kelly? Tell us why.

I’m sure each of them would be a fine dinner companion, but I’d rather dine with Renee Montagne of NPR, co-host of “Morning Edition.”  She’s a brainy journalist (Phi Beta from Berkeley), award-winning correspondent in South Africa and Afghanistan, adept anchor—and she sounds like a very nice person (based on interviews I hear regularly, and ones I’ve done with her while I was in the DC studio and she was at NPR West in California).

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Scandal’s Kerry Washington, any of the women from FNC’s “The Five” or MSNBC’s S.E. Cupp. Who will it be? (None is not an option.)

I don’t know any of these women on sight (don’t watch much TV), so you pick one for my blind date, and I’m sure she and I will be able to save the Earth together. [Okay, we'll play your game. We pick Helen Thomas. That's what you get for not answering.]

What swear word do you use most often? “Damn!”…used sparingly.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)

Cokie Roberts, David Frum, Kathleen Parker, David Brooks. (Back-ups for when someone is traveling or out sick: Peggy Noonan and E. J. Dionne.)

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be?

My zany and wise mother, Gogo Kiplinger (1919-2007)

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FishbowlDC Interview With MetroWeekly’s Snow

Say hello to Justin Snow, Metro Weekly‘s political reporter and bacon lover. Earlier this year he replaced Chris Geidner, who went to work for BuzzFeed. Before he joined the gay news magazine, Snow was a reporter for MarylandReporter.com and Baltimore magazine. He also freelanced for the New York Post and the American Prospect.

Snow told FishbowlDC he never “set out” to cover the gay beat. “I’ve always been a political junkie and a reporter who has covered a wide range of topics, which have included LGBT issues, but that has never been my sole interest,” he said. We asked him to help save a hypothetically dying out population and gave him three options of media women with whom to procreate. That went over real well. On a more serious note, mags are Snow’s preferred medium and he said working for Metro Weekly has so far been “fantastic.” On a cheery note, he added, “I hope to be writing for magazines for as long as readers are still reading them,” he said.

Let’s begin.

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

Ginger Ale. And no, I’m not 70 years old — just acerbic.

How often do you Google yourself?

I delegate that task to Google Alerts.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

Is that what you’re wearing?

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza, mainly because I want his job.

Do you have a favorite word?

I say “absurd” an absurd amount.

Who would you rather have dinner with – FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, NBC’s Brian Williams or ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Tell us why.

Diane Sawyer, under the condition that the Chardonnay flow as freely as it did on election night.

Find out Snow’s favorite swear word and who peed on his bed after the jump… Read more

The FishbowlDC Interview With WaPo‘s Sargent

Say hello to Greg Sargent. He’s the guy manning WaPo‘s liberal “Plum Line” blog. Sargent joined WaPo in 2009, after having worked at Talking Points Memo, New York magazine and The Observer.

In the past, FishbowlDC has documented (at great length) the Twitter brawls between Sargent and his conservative counterpart Jennifer Rubin. He typically doesn’t respond to any of our comment requests on the battles, but luckily we got him to partake in the FishbowlDC interview.

Let’s begin…

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

Scotch and soda.

How often do you Google yourself?

Relentlessly. How else can I keep up with all that abuse?

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

Take your butter and shove it! (To my boss at a restaurant where I worked as a busboy in my teens — he’d criticized me for giving customers too much butter with their bread.)

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Pleading the Fifth.

Do you have a favorite word?

Yes!

Who would you rather have dinner with – FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, NBC’s Brian Williams or ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Tell us why.

Bill O’Reilly. I want to get a close-up view of his fascinating case of Soros paranoia.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either CNN’s Candy Crowley or FNC’s Greta Van Susteren (significant others will understand). Who will it be?

Sorry, no can do. My significant other is not quite that understanding.

What swear word do you use most often?

Fuckshitfuckshitfuckshitfuckshit

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Samuel Clemens, and William Lloyd Garrison.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be?

Abraham Lincoln.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler)

Beutler. He gets what my son is about. And he likes chess.

When you pig out what do you eat?

Chicken tacos with coleslaw and jalapeno/cilantro salsa.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it.

My Led Zeppelin t-shirt. But I’m not sure what it’s made of at this point.

Find out what bodily function led to Sargent getting a ticket after the jump…

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The FishbowlDC Interview With MSNBC and WaPo’s Fashion Conscious Newsman Jonathan Capehart

Say hello to MSNBC Contributor and WaPo liberal op-ed writer Jonathan Capehart. This feature typically runs on Fridays, but what can we say? Capehart is fashionably late and a charmer — we gave him a deadline extension. But worth the wait, he is. Even if just to learn one of his nicknames, which you will find out in his response to “Tell us a secret not many people know about you.” Capehart, born in Newark, N.J. and largely raised in Hazlet, is a unique blend of innocent and stylish to straightforward and serious with a touch of sass. His colleague at MSNBC, Karen Finney refers to him as her “gay husband.” She admits her bias in his favor and more seriously adds, “I have great respect for the seamless and authentic way Jonathan balances his sharp intelligence and wit with good ol street smarts. And his commentary brings a much needed perspective to political and cultural dialog.” Another colleague, MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist, also sings his praises and takes special note of his style. “Jonathan’s political smarts and cultural savvy come with something that’s in short supply in our business: grace and class,” Geist wrote in an email. “He proves you don’t have to shout to be heard. More importantly, Jonathan comes with shirts, ties, and pocket squares that make the rest of us look like hobos.” A constant presence on MSNBC, Capehart is known most anyplace he goes. Claim to fame: In 1999 he was a contributor to the New York Daily News team that won a Pulitzer for Best Editorial Writing. Writing may be his forté, but he may want to keep bagel consumption on the DL. In 2009, former MSNCBer Dylan Ratigan seriously irked Capehart’s mother by running a clip of her son downing a bagel during a commercial break. She phoned in to the live show and gave Ratigan a piece of her mind, saying, “Do you have cameras in the bathroom or the dressing room? Who you gonna put on national TV next? Because if you wanted to make a fool out of someone… you could use yourself because it really pissed me off.” She charged on, saying her son is neither a “clown” nor a “kid at a birthday party.” Gawker called Ratigan a “dick” over the incident. The host apologized. Enjoy! (Photo credit: Frank Thorp)
If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be?  San Pellegrino Aranciata
How often do you Google yourself?  About once a quarter. Gotta know what the nasty folks are saying/writing — that they’re not saying on Twitter.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Can’t think of anything. Thankfully, I have nothing that even comes close to “worst.”
Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Unfair. I can’ t pick just one.
Do you have a favorite word? Terrific.
What word or phrase do you overuse? I probably say the words “divine” or “superb” a little too much.
Who would you rather have dinner with – ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CNN’s Candy Crowley or CBS’s Gayle King. Tell us why. Gayle King! I know her, but I haven’t dined with her. It would be one long, boozy, laughter-filled  gabfest.
Who has better style Kim Kardashian or Kate Middleton? I mean really — KATE!
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had recently with a source or a politician? I can’t tell you that.
You’re going to need to use your imagination on this one. The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either first lady Michelle Obama or would-be first lady Ann Romney. We’re also going to go ahead and give you a few other options…Any of Mitt and Ann Romney’s five sons or Anderson Cooper? Who will it be? Um….wow….um….You do realize that under any scenario, we’re looking at extinction, right?
Do you have any funny TV bloopers? You mean besides the bagel incident? Can’t get much funnier than that. Oh, wait, there was the first time I did sports on “Way Too Early.”
Which presidential candidate would you most like to fight with? Break bread with? Go jogging with? Fight with? Assuming you mean a verbal fight, Mitt Romney. Break bread with? President Obama. Go jogging with? I jog alone.
What’s the name of your cell phone ring?  Old phone.
It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry? No.
You have to watch a Saturday afternoon marathon of one of the following shows. Pick one: FNC’s The Five, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight or TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Honey Boo Boo. Um, would there be vodka?

The FishbowlDC Interview With Politico’s Irascible Morning Money Man Ben White

Say hello to Politico‘s Ben White, who writes the “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy. Before Politico, he covered Wall Street for the NYT. Other publications he has worked for include WaPo and the Financial Times. He lives in New York City. As some of you may have noticed, Ben has something of a temper problem. Of course not remotely to the degree of Politico Pro Editor Tim Grieve, who was recently voted FishbowlDC’s “Worst Temper in Washington” in our Summer Superlatives. But Ben has his moments, like a recent rash of irritation he felt during a trip to Washington at the Madison Hotel where he had made a reservation. When he arrived, they wouldn’t honor his reservation. Suffice it to say, Ben wasn’t pleased and felt Twitter shaming might do the trick. One other important thing about him? He appears to have a man crush on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as you’ll see below. In all sincerity, the finance reporter has a self-deprecating wit we’ve grown to appreciate in recent weeks, so we wanted to find out a little more about what makes him tick, or rather, what ticks him off.

Have a look.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be?  Soda Stream version of diet coke. I drink so much of it I have to make my own.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Worst thing I’ve said: “Do you have any idea at all how financial markets actually work?” The answer: “No, I really don’t.”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I don’t have one favorite. I love tons of reporters. Right now I’m in special awe of Maggie Haberman for her tenacity and productivity. It’s astounding and frankly I think she must be on steroids.

Do you have a favorite word? I have three. Jacob and Rafi, my two boys, and Jenna, my love.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, FNC’s Juan Williams or NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Tell us why. Blitzer. Because everywhere he goes is the Situation Room and that’s where I want to be. And his silvery beard mesmerizes me and has all the answers.

What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had while on the campaign trail and who was it with? My favorite was Karen from Arkansas with the huge hair and sequined blue dress who was most looking forward to her delegation’s party for Bill Clinton.

The population is dying out and you are required to save civilization as we know it. You have a romantic evening ahead of you (to save the planet) and you have three possible dates. Pick one. 1. Wolf Blitzer, Juan Williams or Candy Crowley. Just joking. Your real three options: 1. Lindsay Lohan 2. A much younger Madeleine Albright or 3. Chelsea Clinton. If I can’t have Blitzer, I’d go with Madeleine Albright because her story is so incredible and she is so breathtakingly smart.

Tell us a funny story from the road. Can be long or short. In 2000, my man job seemed to be carrying legendary Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory‘s bags around New Hampshire. I think its my best memory from the trail and probably the most useful thing I’ve done in journalism.

What’s the most revolting thing you’ve eaten in your campaign travels? And the best? I ate most of my dinners in Tampa from a vending machine. But best meal was also there, original Cuban sandwich at Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City with former Sen. Mel Martinez.

What annoys you most about campaign coverage? And what gratifies you about it? … 

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The FishbowlDC Interview With Vintage Fashion Blogger and Olympic Sangria Drinker Lisa Rowan

Say hello to Lisa Rowan, a fashion blogger for Goodwill of Greater Washington and an online communications consultant. She contributes to the Goodwill’s fashion blog and represents the organization at events and workshops. She also writes about vintage and consignment clothing for Quarterlife202.com. Rowan formerly worked as a Community Host for TBD, but as Robert Allbritton‘s Titanic began to sink, she was laid off in March. She earned a B.A. in history from the University of Maryland and is expected to earn an M.A. in Arts and Liberal Studies from Georgetown in December, 2013. Rowan was kind enough to photograph her favorite item of clothing. She wrote in late one night to say, “I’m back and full of sangria! 1. Dress photo attached. I didn’t even Instagram it, but I did do my best to make the sparkles stand out. It’s tough when all your walls are yellow or ivory. Maybe you can run it through Blingee? 2. Resume attached for your reference. It’s pretty boring. 3. [Re: TBD] I got laid off when everyone else did. I left in mid-March, about halfway through the marathon of last-day ‘happy’ hours. (We called them ‘sad hours.’)” Follow Rowan’s unique, self-deprecating wit on Twitter at @Lisatella. As for her photograph, she says: “Please note that I don’t actually have jaundice and that one of my weak points is naming image files.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Champagne.

How often do you Google yourself? With Google Alerts, self-Googling comes to you!

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? “My dad gave me the same advice.”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Elizabeth Holmes, style reporter at the Wall Street Journal. She can embrace the fun side of her beat, but has her thumb on related economic issues, too.

Do you have a favorite word? I like a lot of words. Playing favorites would be unfair.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Anderson Cooper or ABC’s Katie Couric or Dr. Phil. Tell us why. Anderson Cooper would be the sassiest. And he sounds like a picky eater, which would make me look like a culinary adventurer in comparison.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Gabby Sidibe (“Precious” etc..) or Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). Who will it be? (Neither is not an option.) Gabby Sidibe. Hollywood!

What swear word do you use most often? Fucking.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) Ann Curry, Brian Williams, Amanda Hess, The Rev. Al Sharpton. I think Amanda and Al would get along great.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? Peter Jennings.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler) Are these not those boys from One Direction?

When you pig out what do you eat? Cookies. So many cookies.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. On one of my last vintage buying trips to an undisclosed location, I found a slinky evening dress by Palm Beach designer Ann Herwig that’s from some time in the early 1960s. It’s got a scoop neck, an open back, and ivory sequins from shoulder to toe. I bought it for $60, had the zipper repaired, and kept it for myself. God only knows when it will ever make it out of the closet.

Pick one: Mad Men, Scandal or True Blood. Mad Men.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? No.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? I have felt like death on a number of occasions, but have never actually approached it.

Ever been arrested? No.

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The FishbowlDC Interview With ABC7′s Van Cleave


Kris Van Cleave may be the first person to ever send his responses to our lengthy FBDC Interview off a smartphone. We noticed the “Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone” signature on his email and thought 1. Who answers this many questions on a phone?!” 2. Who has a 4GLTE?! He told us he didn’t actually answer all of the questions on his phone, but said his responses “may benefit from a spell check.”

Van Cleave is going on six years as a general assignment reporter for ABC7/WJLA. He has received multiple awards over the span of his journalism career, including a Regional Edward R. Murrow Team Coverage Award for reporting on the the 2009 Metro collision.

Before coming to D.C., Van Cleave was a reporter in San Diego and Colorado Springs. As for his personal life, he kept it brief: “Not married, no kids.” He didn’t always want to work in TV news. “I thought maybe I could be a sports announcer,” he said, “but the desire to eat overwhelmed that.” His family moved to LA before high school and an anchor, Ross Becker, took him under his wing and he remains a close friend and mentor to this day.

Van Cleave said watching the media cover the 1993 Southern California wildfires and the 1994 Northridge earthquake sold him on TV. His dream job: to be a network correspondent. But he says he has a “wonderful situation” at WJLA.

Let’s begin.

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

Diet Barq’s…plenty of bite, but fewer calories.

How often do you Google yourself?

Hourly. I also spend time each day looking for a unicorn.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

“Wow (boss who won’t be named), you’re the same age as my parents!”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Martha Raddatz—she’s one of my news heroes. Her reporting is fearless — she goes to some of the most dangerous places on earth time and again. Her coverage of U.S. troops abroad and here at home has been compelling, heartfelt, and powerful. Plus, she’s gracious and more than willing to help a younger reporter get better.

Do you have a favorite word?

Schweinefleisch! Hard to work into a sentence, but fun to say.

Who would you rather have dinner with – FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, NBC’s Brian Williams or ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Tell us why.

Diane. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her yet. Brian Williams would be a close second. When I was in college he let me shadow him for part of a day. I’ve always been grateful for that.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either CNN’s Candy Crowley or FNC’s Greta Van Susteren (significant others will understand). Who will it be?

How quickly are we dying out?

What swear word do you use most often?

The one that starts with F and its many variations.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)

Let’s make Sunday morning TV something to see…Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow. Perhaps we could have Pugil Sticks?

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be?

Either of my grandfathers. I never got meet them.

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The FishbowlDC Interview With Foreign Affairs Publisher Lynda Hammes

Say hello to Lynda Hammes, the new Publisher of Foreign Affairs Magazine. She was formerly deputy publisher and director of digital strategy of the magazine. Her predecessor, David Kellogg, is retiring after 25 years. Hammes nearly pulled the wool over our eyes by having one of her comedy-writing friends answer the questions to this interview. Unfortunately, she says, the responses were too vulgar to submit. Enjoy!

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? I would hope to be Dr. Pepper, not too bubbly and not too sweet.

How often do you Google yourself? Never. I also never, ever tell a lie.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? Sure, just run with it – we have insurance.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Bobby Cuza from NY1.

Do you have a favorite word? Twitterpated.

Who would you rather have dinner with – MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric or ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Tell us why. Tough call! I’d go with Diane Sawyer – it would be fascinating to hear about her reporting from North Korea, interviews with Fidel Castro. I also bet that she could file a great piece for Foreign Affairs (Diane, are you reading this?)

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either CNN’s Wolf Blitzer or FNC’s Chris Wallace (their wives will understand). Who will it be? Ask me the question when my choices are Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker or Zbigniew Brzezinski.

What swear word do you use most often? Zut alors! Cursing in translation is la puta madre.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) Glen Greenwald, Rebecca Mackinnon, Anne-Marie Slaughter with Julian Assange…and Bill Maher as guest host for comic relief when people mistake him for Assange.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? Andy Warhol would probably pick a really expensive place and stick me with the bill…so, I’ll say Lenny Bruce.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler) Donnie Wahlberg. I realize that’s not what you’re looking for, but I’ll come back to you after sourcing my #Girlbander backlash question a la Top Womerati.

When you pig out what do you eat? Ice cream, mint chocolate chip.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. Cowboy boots from Cowtown off the highway in El Paso, $189 if I remember correctly.

Pick one: Mad Men, Scandal or True Blood. Are those boy bands? I don’t watch a lot of TV…

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? Once, by a friend, but she mixed up the death and lovers cards.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? No, but that tarot card reading put me on my guard.

Ever been arrested? When I was 16. My dad picked me up from the police station and I’ll never live it down.

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