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Interview techniques

Major Garrett Goes for a White House Hat Trick

As Politico reported earlier, CBS’s Major Garrett got quite the get today. The network’s chief White House correspondent scored interviews with both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, which will air tonight and tomorrow morning. But he’s not stopping there. Oh no. In an apparent attempt to interview every high-profile member of the Obama administration before the weekend, Garrett will sit down with Press Secretary Jay Carney tomorrow morning at George Washington University for a conversation with the kids at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Topics will include how to field questions in the briefing room, keeping your cool in times of pressure, and tips to stay on message.

Obviously, this will largely be a review for most of those students, since anyone attending a GW School of Media and Public Affairs talk with the White House Press Secretary will have seen every episode of “The West Wing” dozens of times. And we seriously doubt Jay can tell us anything we haven’t already learned from C.J. Craig…

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C-SPAN Goes to Dublin

C-SPAN traveled to Dublin this past weekend. Which would be Dublin, New Hampshire, unfortunately, and not the one in Europe.

While in Dublin, they captured Sen. Ted Cruz‘s (R-Texas) speech at a Republican Party fundraiser. After the speech, they milled about in the crowd and caught P.J. O’Rourke, a research fellow at Cato and a regular columnist at The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator and Atlantic Monthly, praising him. “Well done, chief,” said O’Rourke, who swooped in with his yellow tie askance. “Well done.”

Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald Annoyed That TPM Reports He Was Annoyed

The story behind-the-story of the Snowden NSA leaks must still be interesting. And it’s all getting rather weirdly touchy.

Today, the New York Times ran a transcript of an “encrypted question-and-answer session” between journalist Peter Maass and Snowden, in which Snowden is asked about his initial contacts with Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras. It’s a preview of a profile of Poitras called “Snowden’s People” that will run in the Sunday magazine.

The most interesting part of it all is when Snowden says he thought Poitras and Greenwald were annoyed he wasn’t older. He’s 30, though we’re not entirely sure why that would matter (Maass apparently didn’t seem to feel the need to follow-up, but it could have something to do with the belabored security-intensive interview method in which Poitras served as intermediary). This was also just Snowden’s impression upon their first meeting—he doesn’t give any real details on why he thought they were upset about his age—and it was an impression he gave while admitting he, too, was annoyed because Poitras and Greenwald had showed up for their meeting early.

All that was the point of a short transcript that Talking Points Memo highlighted in a post this morning under the headline, “Snowden: Greenwald Was ‘Annoyed That I was Younger’ Than He Expected.” Normally that would be that, but then Greenwald chimed in to help us understand why Snowden’s age was so off-putting.

You see, Greenwald is just easily annoyed.

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TNR Asks About Politico’s Sexism, Gets VandeHei’s Media Savvy Wrath

Politico’s Editor-in-Chief John Harris and Executive Editor Jim VandeHei recently sat down with The New Republic’s senior editor Isaac Chotiner for a two-hour interview. They talked about Politico’s role as an insidery conversation driver, about market corrections in politics (as in the flame outs of Sarah Palin, Herman Cain) and who on Capitol Hill is savvy when it comes to the media (not many, says VandeHei).

It seemed like a pretty ho-hum if not overly positive interview, at least until Chotiner brought up the charge that some women find Politico a difficult place to work. Harris responds rather matter of factly and tosses in a little deflection. He tells TNR that in the beginning, Politico was a startup and it was a difficult place for everyone to work, not just women. If that sounds like a PR-crafted soundbite, it just might be because VandeHei says sort of the same thing, just not so tactfully and with an obvious air of being on the defense. “Wait a second,” he says to Chotiner. “I want to add to what John said. I find this critique both offensive and wrong.”

From there, things went downhill. What was that about who has media savvy and who doesn’t?

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AnonymASS Tipster of the Day

We’re making this one “Tipster of the Day” since there could be more as the week moves along. Seems premature to give this one the prize for the entire week. Anyhow, this tipster is referring to the news broken by Politico Publicist Dylan Byers late last night that FP‘s Susan Glasser will go to work for Politico next month.

AnonymASS writes in: “Tip: When you get beat on a story with a ‘weeks’ head start, you look worse, and not better, if you disclose the bad judgement of failing to check it out because it was ‘ludicrous.’”

Dear ASS: Thank you for your note. Always a pleasure. But I wonder if you took 20 seconds to think about the fact that yeah, we did go to a bunch of sources on the matter — all of whom dissuaded us from thinking there was any hint of reality to it. There was no failure to check it out, just a failure to be clairvoyant when sources weren’t ready to reveal what was happening. Somehow I don’t think they would be amenable to taking lie detector tests just yet. We’ll work on it though and applaud Politico for giving the scoop to their own reporter.


Howard Stern Show Regular Chances Upon FNC’s Tucker Carlson Fishing in Central Park

“You’re in public, I can record you.”

This is Howard Stern Show Contributor and videographer Joey Boots‘ stock line as he approaches strangers in New York City and videotapes fucks with them. As Gothamist reported over the weekend, this is what happened to FNC “Fox & Friends” Co-Host and Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, who was enjoying quiet time by himself fly fishing for Largemouth Bass in Central Park when Boots approached.

“What is that?” Carlson asked. Boots replied, “It’s called a video camera.” Carlson: “Are you videotaping me?” Boots: “Yeah.” Carlson: “Why?” Boots: “Because you’re in public, I can.”

Asked to comment on the experience, Carlson told FishbowlDC: “If you’re fly fishing in Manhattan, you can’t complain when you run into a videocam-wielding Howard Stern fan. It’s a different vibe from your average Montana trout stream for sure, but basically I enjoyed it.”

Later on in the video Carlson and Boots exchange semi-niceties. Boots wants to know where the fly fisherman grew up. “California,” Carlson says. Later Carlson remarks, “I can tell by your manner that you’re from New York.” Boots: “Get the hell out of here! Is it my accent?” Carlson: “It’s everything about you.”

Carlson had clearly never heard of Boots. Boots hadn’t the foggiest idea who Carlson was. And Gothamist doesn’t appear to know Carlson either… Read more

NJ Reporter Gets Hog Wild and Bloody With Congressman

NJ reporter Ben Terris took a trip to Zolfo Springs, Fla. to go boar hunting with Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and things got a little, well, bloody. He began, “It’s 7:30 a.m., and already the congressman and I are covered in blood.”

Terris reported that blood trickled out of a gash in his head — an injury that eventually landed him in the ER. But for now, he wrote, “The lingering buzz from the predawn whiskey shot helps.”

The reporter felt compelled to learn more about Ross since his publication had ranked him among the top 10 conservative members of Congress. “You should come boar hunting with me sometime,” Ross had told him a few weeks prior.

An excerpt:

Ross leaned forward in his seat to size up my multicolored socks, my oversized glasses, my untamed hair. “Of course, if it makes you more comfortable, we can donate all the meat to a food bank,” he said. It was a diplomatic gesture. If Ross had overestimated how much I might object to killing an animal for sport, I could forgive him. In Washington, people tend to rely on signals to get a sense of each other: party affiliations, voting records, socks. Subtleties get lost. I started thinking that the only way to really understand Dennis Ross would be to join him in his natural habitat.

Read the full story here.

D.C. Journos Fail to Impress Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has finally found an interviewer he likes. And it’s not Yahoo NewsChris Moody, but he came close.

Throughout his campaign, Gingrich has slammed FNC’s Chris Wallace for “gotcha questions.” He also chided Politico‘s John Harris for trying to get Republicans to “fight each other.” And when CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo pressed Gingrich on his criticism of the media’s reporting on the economy, he dripped with sarcasm: “I love humor disguised as a question.”

Newt Gingrich tweeted Wednesday that his favorite interview of his campaign was likely with an 8-year-old girl in Florida signaling to Beltway media they might need to step up their game.

The girl, Katrina Russell, is an aspiring reporter who caught up with Gingrich at a Books-A-Million on Tuesday where he was signing books.

Russell told the Naples News that Moody helped her pick out her questions before the interview:

One reporter (Chris Moody, of Yahoo News) read my questions and suggested I pick out the best three. I practiced reading them outloud and he (Moody) said, “I like that one” or he just nodded his head so I knew he didn’t really like that question as much.

We asked Moody how it all went down:

“[Russell] and her mom approached me before he arrived and I was happy to help,” he said. “I was impressed that a little kid thought to ask the great question about whether Gingrich would order Godfather’s Pizza to the White House. We all got scooped by an eight-year-old.”

Here’s how some of the Q&A went (take note, D.C. press corps.):

Have you met a president? If so, who was your favorite one?George Washington and I’ve met Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, and of course, myself. I’m not a president yet. But with your help, I could be.”

If you become president, will you order Godfathers pizza? “I like Herman Cain. Godfathers pizza is good. But I shouldn’t be eating so much pizza.”

If you have pets, what are you going to do with them if you become president? “I don’t have any pets right now, but I love pets. I think if I become president we’ll get a dog.”

Barney Bristles at Savannah’s Questions

NBC “TODAY show” host Savannah Guthrie deserves a beach vacation to for barreling through an interview with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as he insulted her, the media and her questions.

Not known for a gentle bedside manner with journalists, Frank can often be Gingrichesque in his tone toward the media during interviews, often calling reporters’ questions stupid mid-interview. Some reporters love his, pardon the pun, frankness. Others find it grating and intimidating. Guthrie faced the throat lisping curmudgeon in a Tuesday morning interview regarding his decision to not run for reelection to Congress. After she suggested that his decision could signal that Dems may not take back the house, Frank replied, “I wish we could talk substance in the media sometimes. I know that’s against, kind of apparently, the rules.”At one point he dismisses her questions as “Gotcha! Journalism” and tells her that her questions are typical in that they foster a negative dialogue and inability for lawmakers to get anything done. Not missing a beat, she immediately fired back, “Back to the tone, I mean you do make a fair point about the media. On the other hand, you certainly are known for your sharp and acerbic at times tongue. Do you feel any responsibility for your own role for that tone that we do see in Washington?” Frank tells her she’s “four for four” on negative questions. He says she “exemplifies” a negative tone that he claims didn’t used to exist.

Watch the tense exchange here.


Journos Teach the Art of Interviewing

Jamie Dupree of Cox Media, WaPo‘s Emily Heil, Politico’s Reid Epstein and Ryan Teague Beckwith of Roll Call will be speaking about “The Art of Interviewing” at a panel at Georgetown University’s master’s of journalism program from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15th.

The panel is aimed at Georgetown students, but it’s open to the public. RSVP to The event will be at the school’s Clarendon Campus, just across from the Clarendon Metro stop at 3101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va.


For more info, visit