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FishbowlDC Interview

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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FishbowlDC Interview With Mojo’s Adam Weinstein

Say hello to Mother Jones‘ National Security Correspondent Adam Weinstein, who has been splitting his time between Washington, San Francisco and Tallahassee. Next month he’ll grace Washington full-time as the mag’s new Community Engagement Editor and will continue on as their National Security Correspondent and Tumblr-starter. He was previously their copy editor. Before that, he worked at the WSJ, the Village Voice, and the Tallahassee Democrat. He’s written for the NYT, New York Magazine, GQ, and Newsweek.

He has many life titles: Navy veteran, two-day Jeopardy champion and ex-political scientist. He also did a recession-fueled stint as a military contractor in Iraq. He holds an MS in Journalism from Columbia and an MA in international affairs from Florida State. Weinstein says he’s looking forward to “getting down with” the other social media folks in Washington.

Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, he says he tried his hardest to be a beach bum. “There was lots of drinking on the beach and cutting class,” he recalled. In high school he interned at the Sun Sentinel, where he says he caught the Hemingway bug and figured journalism was something he’d always end up doing. He was a copy editor at the Tallahassee Democrat and the WSJ until Rupert Murdoch laid him off. He has funny copy editing memories: “Everybody has that moment where the front page comes out and you have a 72-point headline that reads ‘Headline Goes Here.’” He says he wasn’t a very good copy editor.

Weinstein says one of the problems journalists have is remembering that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  “We all just have a tendency to assume that what we work on everyday and what comprises our world is what comprises everybody’s elses,” he says. “The best journalists are ones that can step out of that bubble and be aware of other people’s worlds.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Diet Mountain Dew. Not very classy, but irresistible, slightly Southern, and sure to make you sick in massive quantities.

How often do you Google yourself? Enough to grow hair on my iPad.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? I once told a restaurant manager I’d rather take a high colonic with a rusty chainsaw than work another minute for him. Two years later, I was writing for the Village Voice. The restaurant was out of business.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I can’t narrow it down. Dave Weigel is the nicest guy in the business. Mike Hastings is the most entertaining. C.J Chivers is a personal hero. I have an intellectual crush on Virginia Heffernan. But overall, right now I’d kill a man with my bare hands just to keep reading John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Do you have a favorite word? My wife and I giggle every time we say the word “backpack”, for some not-at-all-drug-related reason. When not in mixed company, I like “fuckstick.”

Who would you rather have dinner with – MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric or ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Tell us why. Maddow, because I like to talk to PhDs. There ought to be more doctors and masters of non-journalistic shit working in journalism.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Helen Thomas or Joan Rivers. Who will it be? (Neither is not an option and yes, it’s possible. We’re in your imagination right now.) Joan Rivers, because I like her dirty talk.

What swear word do you use most often? “What the shit?!” I’m an ex-copy editor, so a lot of years in there, I spoke mainly in cusses. We’re the engine mechanics of the news biz.

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.) Skip Bayless, Woody Paige, Dana Loesch, Jonah Goldberg, and three dull machetes in the center of the table.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? I was raised in part by a lovely woman, April Rubin Bloom, an erudite, gentle union crusader who was like a third grandmother to me – Molly Ivins meets Atticus Finch. I was working on the wrong coast when she died, and we never got to share in each other’s excitement over my job at MoJo, one of her favorite magazines. Plus, she was the most talented cook ever to organize a NOW picket line for equal pay.

Does David Corn have a bad temper? No! He’s just a badass ex-hippie with great guitar licks and a sophomoric sense of humor.

Weinstein says Washington’s Boybanders “poop brown poop just like the rest of us” …

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FishbowlDC Interview With Ex-Gawker Jim Newell

Say hello to Wonkette, Salon and The Guardian Contributor Jim Newell, who recently departed Gawker for what, even he’s still not sure. He worked there for a year and a half as their Politics Editor and left at the end of January. “New opportunities, I don’t know. They were going in a different direction,” he said in a phone interview. “I think they are doing less full-time politics, which is what I was doing there, so I moved on.” When Newell sent me the following email at 2:50 a.m. this morning I figured he had stayed up late watching LMN. He wrote, “Here you go Betsy! I hope it’s alright, I only went on one extended murder fantasy.” Born and raised in Annapolis, Md., Newell looks back on his childhood and describes himself as a shy, not very rebellious kid who lived on the water, which may not mean a whole lot.”We just happened to live in Annapolis by the water,” he said. “We’d look at the water, we wouldn’t go in the water.” For the last several months, he has enjoyed making his own hours as a freelancer, but he thinks he may need to start job hunting for something full-time soon. “I need structure,” he said. “I have just been sitting on my couch for five years. I’d like to do something where I can write longform, where I can go out and report and take a little bit more time. But I’ll take what I can get. I’ve cursed out most of the newspapers in town.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? This is a ludicrous question.

How often do you Google yourself? Usually if I want to see if I’m getting any responses to a piece that I’ve put work into. So like once a decade.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? “I’m leaving you for Gawker.”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I don’t know, there are a bunch of bloggers and reporters I read regularly but there’s no one muckraking investigative long-form shitkicker who really stands out, off the top of my head. Probably because I mostly read “campaign journalism” now, which is all nonsense. I just finished Robert Draper‘s new book about the House, though, and it was excellent. Now I’m reading Steve Coll‘s new book about Exxon Mobil, which is a goddamn professional reporting job.

Do you have a favorite word? No.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Ice’s wife, Coco, Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan? Tell us why. Lohan, I guess. She has stories/is a human being.

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.) Interesting pair of choices, there. Is Fishbowl DC suggesting that black women with strong personalities are such unappealing potential mates that I’d consider allowing the Earth’s human population to die out rather than procreate with them? I would let the human population die off regardless of who it is, thank you very much. Anyway… Sidibe?

Editor’s note: Easy there, Newell. Precious has eaten a human for breakfast for far less. To insinuate that we think these women are sexually unappealing is wrong. Precious is bursting with sex appeal and watch out if you get in SJL’s way during any State of the Union Address when she manhandles the President for a handshake or kiss. We have previously thrown ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner into the ring for female interviewees but didn’t think he’d be appealing for you.

What swear word do you use most often? Shit. My favorite though is “fucktard,” but only as a treat.

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.) Ideally it would be four middle-aged/elderly white men working at the nation’s premier news outlets where they’ve been wrong about every major event of the past 20 years, but I think the other Sunday shows have them all under contract. I think I’d just put four planks of wood in the chairs and meditate for an hour. It’d be less damaging to the world.

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The FishbowlDC Interview With Daily Caller’s Resident Daredevil Josh Peterson

Say hello to The Daily Caller‘s Tech Editor Josh Peterson. He has been with the publication since October, and before that worked at the Heritage Foundation for a month as an intern in their investigative reporting unit. Born in Honolulu, Peterson grew up in Forest Lake, Minn. with his mother and stepfather. Among Peterson’s claims to fame is that he once gave himself a black eye in a skateboarding accident when his face scraped on the side of a concrete staircase. (He can barely tell the story he’s laughing so hard.) The incident landed him in the ER and he awoke with his eye swollen shut. “I was definitely a klutz growing up,” he said, explaining that he BMX biked and played hockey. “I played a lot of sports but I was always hurting myself. I will still graze the corner of a table now and then. My shoulder will hit a wall by accident.” At 25 he broke a rib in a martial arts accident and a couple years ago he sprained an ankle. Putting it mildly, he said, “I’m an adventure seeker. I hope that I’m a fearless journalist.” He plays guitar and sings and says D.C. isn’t necessarily a perfect fit. Some people love Washington, he says, “I’m not that person. But I feel passionate about being involved in public discourse.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Cherry Coke. I’m addicted to the stuff.

How often do you Google yourself? All the time.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? I haven’t gotten to that point, yet. I’m saving that for a rainy day and a different place of employment. I love my job.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Jillian Melchior, a friend of mine from my alma mater, Hillsdale College. She’s fearless.

Do you have a favorite word? Elegance.

Who would you rather have dinner with – The Daily Caller’s David Martosko, Kim Kardashian or CNN’s Wolf Blitzer? Tell us why. Kim Kardashian. I have a feeling David and Wolf would understand.

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.

What swear word do you use most often? @#%#!

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.) Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. It would probably be the funniest show on television. Sunday morning shows are so serious. I think it would help to lighten up the atmosphere if there were more comedy in politics.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? Bruce Lee. I’m a mixed martial artist, and he has been a hero of mine since I was a boy.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler) Definitely Attackerman. I’m a huge fan of Wired’s Danger Room blog. They cover some of the craziest technologies. Their coverage of national security issues overlaps with the things I cover, so I’m always trying to read what they have to say.

When you pig out what do you eat? Chili and Rice.

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 yellow Google sunglasses.

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

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? Yes. Having studied Religion and Philosophy in college, I am fascinated by belief systems that people use to ascribe meaning and significance to their lives, as well as psychological games that allow people to gain deeper insight into a person’s psyche. Tarot and astrology also have a fascinating history tied to the Church.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? Once I fell asleep at the wheel while driving on the freeway during rush hour, only to wake up right before I sideswiped the wire guard rail. The car was totaled, and my little brother was in the passenger seat. We were both alright and no one was hurt, but my worst fear had been realized.

Ever been arrested? Does being grounded count?

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FishbowlDC Interview With Bloomberg TV’s Megan Hughes

Say hello to Megan Hughes. She’s a Washington Correspondent for Bloomberg Television and comes from Cleveland.

Hughes tells us she and her family were really into sports growing up. Her father was a coach and she and her two brothers played soccer.

Hughes’s has always had an interest in television; while in high school, she served as a host for a cable access show, “Fairview Forum,” that covered the in’s and out’s of the local school system. After earning a masters in journalism from Northwestern University, her first professional job was as an on-air reporter at ATV (Aruba Television). That began a decade-long career in television news, including five years covering Washington politics. She’s also covered stories overseas including Thailand after the tsunami and along the DMZ in South Korea.

Let’s begin.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be?

Zima

How often do you Google yourself?

Never! Now, Bing on the other hand…

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

I honestly can’t remember ever raising my voice or swearing at a boss. I guess I’ve had a pretty great group of bosses. Or I have a really bad memory.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

She’s a close personal friend, but I really admire Lisa DesJardins from CNN Radio. She’ll stay up all night combing through the minutiae of the budget or reading the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, and manages to balance Capitol Hill doggedness and the highest level of integrity. I’d also give an H/T to Mike Allen for his thoughtful aggregating at ungodly hours. It is appreciated as much as my first cup of coffee — that’s a tremendous amount.

Do you have a favorite word?

My first favorite word is onomatopoeia. My second would be sizzle or splat.

What word or phrase do you overuse?

“I saw that on Twitter hours ago.”

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, ABC’s Diane Sawyer or NBC’s Tom Brokaw? Tell us why.

I’d have to go with Diane. She’s someone I’ve admired since I was hosting a cable access show in high school, and she’s been the definition of pioneer for women in this industry.

What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had while reporting a story and who was it with?

Wow, there have been a lot in 10 years of reporting. Most recently, I’d point to the conversations I had in advance of the Supreme Court hearing healthcare case. It was fascinating to see how it impacts different sectors. Cleveland Clinic’s CEO Toby Cosgrove really opened my eyes to the complexities of hospital budgeting. I had no idea how much money hospitals lose treating Medicaid patients.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring?

Timba.

It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry?

Usually.

What word do you routinely misspell?

I misspell the last name of the Bloomberg colleague I must submit receipts to on an almost daily basis. It’s “Morisette.” Or “Morrissette.” To compensate for my frustration at an already tedious task, I take extra care to add a cheery “Thanks!!!” at the end of each email. Three exclamation points. Ron Morrisette probably thinks I’m a psychopath.

Find out what Hughes’ favorite chocolatey curse word is after the jump.

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FishbowlDC Interview With Examiner‘s Kytja Weir

Say hello to Kytja Weir, a transportation reporter for the Washington Examiner. There’s an easy way to learn the correct pronunciation of her name. “It sounds like KEY-t-cha,” Weir told FBDC. “Or, an easy way to remember is to think of the word ‘keychain.’”

Weir, who has a masters in journalism from Columbia University, deserves a serious medal for her Metro coverage. In January 2011 she reported on Metro workers pooping and peeing inside the trains. A few months later she wrote about a health hazard caused by an excess of pigeon poop at Metro’s Four Mile Run bus garage in Arlington.

Weir moved to Washington D.C. and joined the Examiner in 2008 after a stint at The Boston Globe. Before that she worked for The Charlotte Observer for five years.

Despite never working a transportation beat before, she loves what she does at the Examiner, poop scoop and all. She previously covered education, crime and local government.

Let’s begin.

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

Store-brand root beer.

How often do you Google yourself?

All the time. It’s the easiest way to find my old stories for background context.

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

Let’s just say I have not always been as gracious as I should have been in accepting edits.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

My partner, Binyamin Appelbaum.

Do you have a favorite word?

Brouhaha.

You’re walking down a dark alley and you run into a group of people, all of whom you’ve insulted with your reporting. What do you do? What do you say? And do you activate your mace?

Gosh, there are more of you than I realized. Anything merit a correction?

Who would you rather have dinner with – Examiner’s Paul Bedard, Michaele and Tareq Salahi or Dan Stessel? Tell us why.

Tough call. Would Michaele’s new love — that Journey guy — be invited, too? Could be entertaining to see them all together. Bedard would likely bring delicious donuts. But I’ll go with Stessel because then he couldn’t avoid my questions.

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The FishbowlDC Interview With WaPo‘s Rubin

When she’s not harassing her liberal counterpart Greg Sargent on Twitter, Jennifer Rubin helms the conservative “Right Turn” blog at WaPo. “I love mixing it up with liberals,” Rubin says of the Twitter wars she throws herself into with valiant force. “For too long too many of them have never been forcefully challenged,” she said. “They talk to and write for liberals and rarely get called on to defend their assumptions.”

Rubin joined WaPo in 2010, replacing Dave Weigel, who resigned under the weighty Journolist scandal and moved over to Slate. Before that she wrote for Commentary for several years. And before that she worked as a labor lawyer in California for 20 years. Rubin has a BA in history from UC Berkeley and a JD from Boalt Law School.

Throughout the Republican presidential primary Rubin faced criticism for showing signs that she might be in the tank for Mitt Romney. She doesn’t really deny it. “Oh pish-posh,” she said (yes, she said pish-posh). “I was simply ahead of the curve in spotting the fatal flaws in a series of challengers who would have crashed and burned in the general election.” Rubin said, however, that she actually would have preferred Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over Romney.

Let’s begin.

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

Jolt Cola

How often do you Google yourself?

Hardly ever.

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

A previous editor: “You can’t call Maureen Dowd ‘a harpy.’” Seriously, I’m sure I was on the receiving end of worse but I’ve blocked it out.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Don’t all journalists work? Well, Jake Tapper hands down. He’s smart and fair and tough.

Do you have a favorite word?

Scrumptious

You’re walking down a dark alley and you run into a group of people, all of whom you’ve insulted on your blog. What do you do? What do you say? And do you activate your mace?

I’d say a friendly ‘Hello.’ No mace!

Who would you rather have dinner with – WaPo’s Erik Wemple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi or Hilary Rosen? Tell us why.

Erik certainly!

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) or former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). Who do you choose? (Neither is not an option.)

Sorry, but the world will have to muddle through on its own.

What swear word do you use most often?

F*+k

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.)

Candy Crowley, PJ O’Rourke, John Bolton and AEI President Arthur Brooks.

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside?

My ideal career would be to keep my current job and have a new “Crossfire” with James Carville.

Find out what Rubin pigs out on when no one’s looking…

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The FishbowlDC Interview With Politico’s Juana Summers

Say hello to Politico national political reporter Juana Summers. At least here in the Fishbowl you may know her best from our highlighting her comical news efforts on Politico‘s Livestream Show. With her signature smirk and black leather jacket, Juana, a Missouri School of Journalism grad, has emerged as one of our fan favorites on the show as she navigates directives from Exec. Editor Jim VandeHei and gracefully tackles otherworldly questions from Mike Allen. She says she enjoys the live show and not knowing what she’s going to be asked next. She also swears that Allen and the other higher-ups never tell her what to wear — “no formal instructions, I get to pick my own wardrobe,” she said in a morning phone interview. We can only imagine that getting fashion tips from Allen could be awkward, but a trip with him to the mall could be quite fun. Juana also gets to say what she pleases on the show. No script. “I’m trying to think of how to be as interesting as possible while still making sense on air,” she explained when we inquired what goes through her head as they’re firing questions at her. In the latest show, VandeHei kept badgering her about when she was going to have her story filed and who was going to edit it — how the hell should she know who will edit her piece, VandeHei? (Somehow we have become arch Juana defenders and take our role seriously. We hope she won’t pay dearly for choosing dinner with Politico‘s Tim Grieve as opposed to VandeHei.) In the summer of 2008, Juana was a web intern for WaPo, where she wrote headlines, cutlines and code for “Sacred Ground” the project documenting the Pentagon memorial for Sept. 11 victims. A Kansas City native, she came to Politico from the The Kansas City Star in November, 2010.

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be? If I’m on the clock, just Diet Coke.  If I’m off the clock, Jack and Diet Coke.

How often do you Google yourself? I’ve got self-Google Alerts set up, though I don’t check them as often as I should.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? Back in college, I was told I should give up on political journalism and just “go back to my sorority house.” You see how well I followed that advice.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Jill Abramson from the NYT. I had the opportunity to meet her in ’08. I really respect how she climbed the ranks of a traditionally male driven institution.

Do you have a favorite word? Oscillate. I like the way it sounds.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Fake Jim VandeHei, The Real Jim VandeHei or Politico Pro’s Tim Grieve. Tell us why. And no, all together is NOT an option. As I’ve had dinner with the real Jim VandeHei, I’ll take Tim Grieve. Fake Jim’s love for/obsession with Drudge is a deal breaker.

What’s your funniest TV blooper moment? Being asked during POLITICO Live about the “Santorum campaign bus” and the food we’re provided on the trail.  I purchase my diet of Chicken Nuggets and Egg McMuffins myself and have become quite talented at driving while eating.

What swear word do you use most often? Fuck.

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside? If I knew that, it’d take all the fun out of life. But seriously, I’ve got the campaign bug. Love what I’m doing and hope to be doing something similar in four years. Apparently, living out of a suitcase suits me.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said to a politician (or vice versa)? I’ve been asked by more than one politician if I’m old enough to be covering their events.

Find out who yelled at Juana on the campaign trail and why…

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FishbowlDC Interview with TWT’s Marybeth Hicks

Say hello to TWT Columnist Marybeth Hicks. Metaphorically, you can find her at the intersection of politics and parenting. Literally, you can find her on the opinion page and in book stores.

Hicks lives in East Lansing, Mich., and is the author of three books, most recently “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” She also pens a weekly column which she started in 2004 focusing on politics and culture and their impact on the American family.

Before writing for TWT, Hicks, a graduate of Michigan State University, worked as a writer in the Reagan White House and in corporate communications. But family life reeled her in. She wanted to work from  home “among the four most important machines in a woman’s life… a laptop, a slow cooker, a washer and a dryer.”

She compares the process of writing her latest book to popping out a baby. “It took about nine months, was painful especially at the end, and a few weeks after it comes out, you stop staring at it all the time and start wishing you could sleep through the night,” she told FBDC. The research put her in uncharted territory, she said, leading her to read up on things like “heteronormativity in Disney movies.” (Google it. We did.)

Hicks is a mother of four. Her daughter Kate Hicks is an editor at TownHall.com.

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be? A gin and tonic. And never diet tonic. That stuff is disgusting. Extra lime.

How often do you Google yourself? Hardly ever anymore. Early on I used to check to see if my column was getting any traction, but stopped once my daughters were looking over my shoulder and I discovered my name had been trolled and put on a porn site. Cost me hundreds to get it removed! These days it sends me to radical leftist blogs where I’m routinely called an idiot. Tell me something I don’t know.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? Very early in my career, I was reminded by a boss not to have too much fun at work. In retrospect, that was clearly a nice way of telling me to quiet down. At the time I was confused.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Probably Peggy Noonan. I don’t always agree with her. She was pretty gaga over Obama early on, which annoyed me. But that woman could write about sawdust and her sentences would be lovely and lyrical and use alliteration. Her prose rolled through thoughts like a cloud of literary perfection. It would only be a sawdust essay, but it would be a thing of beauty and I would be jealous. As usual.

Do you have a favorite word? Finished. As in, “I am finished with yet another column. Time for a gin and tonic.” Deadlines haunt me.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Salon’s Joan Walsh, WaPo‘s Kathleen Parker or NYT‘s Maureen Dowd. Tell us why. Really? You’re going to make me look like a mean girl in the Fishbowl interview? Because the honest answer is Jonah Goldberg. But if I must, Kathleen Parker, so I can tell her how much I loved her old stuff, back when she was a conservative, and ask if it was a bigger sellout to endorse President Obama or co-host with [Eliot] Spitzer. See, that just makes me seem mean and I’m not.

What’s your funniest TV blooper moment (or radio or print interview moment)? Well, while promoting Kool-Aid, [ex-Human Events journo] Jason Mattera told me during a radio interview that he wished I was his mom. Then he implied that for a mom, I was hot. That was awkward. I changed the subject.

What swear word do you use most often? You’re trying to ruin my Catholic mom image, aren’t you? Okay, well, it depends. The “s” word when I drop or break things; stronger language as the situation warrants. But I’m Irish, so once I vent, it’s over and we’re having a beer.

Read about Hicks’ edamame problem after the jump…

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