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Archives: July 2005

‘Hollywood for Ugly People,’ Part Deux

Not to beat an entirely dead horse, but just like Justice Robert‘s personal views, we figured Americans deserve something close to the truth about the origins of the phrase “Washington/Politics is Hollywood for ugly people.” You might remember yesterday this began over conflicting uses of the phrase by Washingtonienne Jessica Cutler and Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens.

Using something called “Nexis,” Wonkgirl has traced the slogan back to the first issue of George Magazine in 1995.

Thankfully, our own Googling Monkeys know how to “Nexis” a little better: In 1992, a profile of Paul Begala in the Washington Post (written by Lloyd Grove of all people), explains: “Still, he’s gained a certain fame among political junkies for his ‘Begala-isms,’ homey, funny epigrams of which he seems to have a limitless supply. Clinton’s exhausting final campaign swing, for instance, was ‘like force-feeding sugar to an ant. He can’t get enough of this.’ Clinton, meanwhile, ‘is definitely the hardest-working man in show business. If my rule is true, politics is show business for ugly people.’”

So there you have it: The line appears to have originated as an insult to the governor of Arkansas by one of his top advisors.

Ms. Cutler, for her part, emailed to say yesterday she’s found another favorite phrase: “If you’re too ugly for L.A. and too dumb for N.Y., you can still get rich and famous in D.C.”

WANTED: D.C.’s Hottest Media Types

Hot people have been making news this week both in Gawker and The Hill’s annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful People On The Hill (stop the snickering, please, we can hear you all the way over here).

In honor of those left out of these exciting and pointless contests, we’re announcing the first annual “Fishbowl D.C. Top 10 Hottest Media Personalities in Washington” contest.

The contest will be divided into two main categories, each featuring ten people: On Air and Off Air. That way, hunk David Gregory doesn’t have to go up against that beauty on the Style desk at the Post (you know who you are). There will also some special categories, including “Hottest On Sight” (Thalia Assuras?), “Hottest When You Get To Know Them” (Olivier Knox?) and “Best Accessorized” (Bill Plante‘s pocket squares anyone?).

Heading into the August doldrums of Washington, we’ll be taking nominations through Sunday night of this week and then unveiling the top nominations next Monday morning. Then you’ll have the week to vote before the winners are announced next Friday. Now’s your chance to nominate your favorite PA, DA, anchor, editor, reporter, scribe, producer, or ink-stained wretch.

The only criteria? Nominees have to work in the media and be based in Washington, D.C. Ipso facto, Jeff Gannon doesn’t count since he’s not currently employed in the media and Anderson Cooper doesn’t count because he’s not in Washington.

Email nominations (complete with links or photos if possible) to garrett AT mediabistro DOT com or use the tip box to the right. We’ll also accept suggestions for a better, less lame name for the contest.

Questions For Rove

Dan Froomkin, who has been writing All Rove/Plame All The Time for the past couple of weeks, thinks that Candy Crowley wasn’t asking nearly the right questions of Bob Novak yesterday: “Here are some questions that Novak should be asked, forcefully and directly because as the person who initially published the leak he has a unique obligaion to provide the public with his understaning of what’s going on.”

His list:

  • Have you been notified that you are a target of the special prosecutor’s investigation?

  • It seems pretty obvious, from the fact that you are not currently in jail, that you have cooperated with investigators. Have you indeed met with prosecutors and/or testified before the grand jury? How many times? Under what circumstances?

  • Have you disclosed your two sources to the prosecutors and/or grand jury?

  • Did you get some sort of waiver from your sources before doing so?

  • You have said your lawyer has told you not to comment about the case, even to say whether or not you have testified at all. What, specifically, is his concern? Can we talk to him to confirm that?

  • Are you refusing to talk because you’re afraid of putting yourself in legal jeopardy? Are you in legal jeopardy? Or is it because Fitzgerald has asked you not to comment? If so, why are you honoring that request?

  • Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper felt free to describe his grand jury testimony in detail, including what sorts of questions he was asked. That was a boon to all journalists covering the case. Why won’t you do the same?

    That’s just for starters. Back to you, Candy.


We might suggest, Dan, that you pay $595 and go hear what Novak has to say at his super double secret background briefing next month.

Grumpy Flacks

Roll Call’s Mary Ann Akers has a column that should be tagged “grumpy Hill press secretaries.”

It features not one but two vignettes of “testy” Hill flacks going off on reporters, including this quote, which we nominate as Press Secretary Quote Of The Year: “‘Usually reporters call me about stories that make sense,’ [Sen. Mark Dayton's spokesperson Chris Lisi] said rather testily when we contacted her. ‘Why are you calling me about Diet Coke?’”

You’ll have to read the column to get the context.

> In other press secretary news, Scott McClellan has received a $4,000 raise. Too bad John Roberts and all of his ilk are still rude, otherwise, the job might actually be worth the money.

‘Hollywood For The Ugly’

cutlerbook.jpgIn her new novel, Washingtonienne Jessica Cutler famously describes Washington as “Hollywood for the Ugly.” It’s become something of a tag line for her and the book.

But now, in the forthcoming issue of the September Atlantic, Mark Steyn quotes British sage Christopher Hitchens as saying “Politics is show business for ugly people.”

So which came first, the chick(en) or the egg? Hmmm. Whom to trust: An infamous Hill aide fired from her entry-level job for blogging about her sexual partners who cashes in for a trashy novel deal or a hugely-talented and storied writer for Vanity Fair?

We’re guessing we know that answer.

> The Googling Monkeys, perhaps on loan from the Note, are busy at work: An emailer writes, “Who came up with the description ‘Politics is show business for ugly people,’ Jessica Cutler or Christopher Hitchens? … How about neither? A quick Google search turns up a Detroit Free Press article that quotes Paul Begala — in October 1999.” Can we trace the genesis further back than that?

A ‘Major’ Conflict For Fox’s New WH Face?

kellyjuly26.jpgFox News has promoted Greg Kelly to be its new White House correspondent. Kelly, by the way, is the son of the NYPD commissioner.

And, unlike his colleague Major Garrett, Kelly is an actual major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. This, to us, raises an interesting question: Can someone in the military objectively cover his Commander-in-Chief?

In addition to his three years at Fox News, Kelly is a veteran reporter and airman. During nine years as a fighter pilot in the Marines, Kelly racked up 158 aircraft carrier landings and even flew over missions over Iraq enforcing the “No Fly Zone.” He currently holds the rank of Major in the Marine Corp Reserves.

gregmarinepic.jpgAnd while that military experience certainly came in handy during the Iraq War–Kelly was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade and was the first report to broadcast pictures of Baghdad’s fall–it seems a rather glaring conflict on the White House beat.

How objectively can he do his job when the White House will be constantly making decisions that could bear on whether Kelly is called up for active duty and sent to war? Then there’s that little question of since the President is Kelly’s supreme commander, will Kelly have to salute the President in certain situations?

Will Kelly offer an on-air disclosure when he covers military matters? Should he? Has Fox discussed this potential conflict with him?

For the historians out there, has an active reservist ever covered the presidency before for a major outlet?

> An emailer adds, how will Kelly handle the next time Bush meets with the reporter’s own father? Will he have to say, “Today President Bush met with Mayor Bloomberg and my dad”?

> Another White House scribe chimes in: “Par for the course from Fox. What do you expect? No presumption of objectivity there. At least the conflict of interest is obvious in this case.”

Rove On The Record?

Bob Novak faced some gentle questioning yesterday afternoon on “Inside Politics” from Candy Crowley, and out of it came at least one fascinating insight:

CROWLEY: Well outside whether you testify — I assume you can’t tell us whether you testified at the grand jury or still won’t tell us. Outside of that, can you tell us whether you ever told Karl Rove about Valerie Plame‘s status?

NOVAK: I can’t tell anything I ever talked to Karl Rove about, because I don’t think I ever talked to him about any subject even the time of day, on the record.

Is that normal? Does Karl Rove never speak to anyone on the record? Or can we read anything into how Rove uses Novak by the fact they never speak for attribution?

Anyone out there want to weigh in one way or the other?

> Did Novak lie to Candy Crowley yesterday? Think Progress found at least two instances where Novak has quoted Karl Rove on the record.

Once More Into The Breach….

Scott McClellan continued his battle with the press today, only fielding a couple of questions on what the White House has now chosen to label as the “Valerie Plame issue” instead of calling it the “leak investigation” as it has in past transcripts:

Q: Scott, in the wake of the Valerie Plame incident, on which you will not comment, intelligence officials have indicated there’s a growing concern among operatives in the field, a fear that they might be the targets of political manipulation. And they have indicated that something must be done on the part of the White House to help allay these fears. And given that these people are in the forefront of the war on terror, isn’t it necessary to do something more than simply stonewalling all discussion of the incident in order to restore confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I’ll reject your characterization. What we’re doing is helping to advance the investigation forward. And the President said he’s not going to get into trying to draw conclusions based on reports in the media. Let’s let the investigators complete their work. And that’s what we’ve said, so I’ll reject your characterization. We have for a long time said that we want to help them get to the bottom of this and the best way to do that is to cooperate fully in that investigation. And that means not commenting on it here from this podium.

The hard part of all of this is that Scott McClellan really is just like the best-known member of the Bromeliad family, the pineapple. He may be prickly and hard on the outside, but he’s all soft and sweet on the inside.

Too bad the mean old White House press corps won’t be all sweet back.

Post Hires Away NYT Editor

Wrapping up today’s personnel announcements, the Post appears to have a new deputy national editor. Steve Holmes of the New York Times will be joining the paper once a date has been worked out.

Holmes–a veteran of the Times’ Washington bureau as a congressional, State Department, and presidential campaign correspondent–is a member of the team that won the 2001 Pulitzer for “How Race Is Lived in America,” and has more recently been the deputy education editor.

“We are eager to bring more intensity and visibility to our coverage of social and domestic issues and Steve is anxious to help lead us there. He comes with a strong reputation for creativity, for story conceptualizing, and for being a generally nice guy. We’re nailing down a start date and look forward to his arrival,” Exec Editor Len Downie wrote.

Full announcement after the jump.

> Oh, and if you read Romenesko today, you’ll see that the Post’s sleuth John Mintz is leaving to join his brother’s private eye firm. Of course, Romenesko’s only three weeks late to the story.

Read more

Rep. Hayworth Not Going To Fox — Maybe

jdhayworth.jpgIn a Revolving Door entry that isn’t, Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth is not going to leaving Congress to go work at Fox News. Well, at least, maybe not. Right now, that is, no. But that may be primarily because Fox News hasn’t offered him a job.

The rumors, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, have been swirling recently that the former sportscaster and occasional cable news talking head might be angling for a full-time talking head job at Fox.

A Fox News spokesperson denied the rumors to the biz journal and to cousin site TVNewser, and an “industry insider,” who sounds to us a lot like the previously mentioned Fox News spokesperson, added that Hayworth is a “publicity hound who likely put the rumor out there himself to test the waters, but there’s no interest on Fox’s end.”

Hayworth’s press secretary “discounted” the rumors and said that Hayworth “intends” to run for Congress in 2006. Doesn’t really sound Sherman-esque, though, does it?

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