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Archives: August 2005

Woodruff Retirement Official

judylastshow3.jpgYou know Judy Woodruff has officially retired when you read this: She’s going to be taken the nearly obligatory victory lap of a successful Washington career by serving as a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy.

Depending on whether you like students and the laid-back world of academia, the visiting fellowship can actually be better than the resident fellowship: You jet into town a few times, lecture, and then only come back for the parties. Her study group will focus on “contemporary issues in journalism,” which sounds to us very much like “Random stories and anecdotes from my career.”

The Complaints Department

vaughn2.jpgCBS News offers a quick glimpse into the Public Eye, Vaughn Ververs’ “conversation between CBS News and the public.”

The former Hotline editor was brought on board as a sort of network ombudsman, part of an effort to bring transparency to the Tiffany network while rebuilding its image and ratings in the wake of last fall’s National Guard story scandal.

CBS News President Andrew Heyward says Ververs’ blog will “monitor other blogs, e-mails, and viewer calls to report on disputes over CBS News stories before they boil over.” He will report to CBS Digital boss Larry Kramer, instead of Heyward. “The news division can’t fire me no matter what they’re mad about,” Ververs said.

Ververs worked at CBS News and Fox News Channel before a moving to the Hotline in 1998. Heyward says “he maintained strict political neutrality at the Hotline, but he has a political job in his background,” working as press secretary for Pat Buchanan’s ’92 bid for the GOP nomination.

Heyward says the political job was “just a coincidence…. We didn’t go out looking for someone who had right-wing credentials. I don’t see this as a very politicized position.”

The forum expects to start after Labor Day.

Don Graham, Wash Times Love America, Even If The Post Doesn’t

While the Post dropped its sponsorship of the upcoming Pentagon Freedom Walk it doesn’t mean the paper’s leadership doesn’t support the Pentagon Memorial Fund.

Reports are surfacing from a June breafast fundraiser at the Madison Hotel, where Post Chairman Donald Graham huddled with some deep-pocketed pals. Apparently, Graham feels “very, very strongly that in some way the people who died at the Pentagon .. have not been sufficiently remembered.”

Meanwhile, ever one to needle the Post, the Washington Times has offered to replace the dominant daily as a co-sponsor of the walk, which WTOP, WJLA, and NewsChannel 8 continue to support.

One in the Plus Column

Word from the Roll Call offices today that after weeks of departures, they’re adding one back to the staff:

Politics Editor Josh “No relation to Howie” Kurtz announced today that the paper has hired David M. Drucker as its new politics reporter. Drucker has been with the Sacramento bureau of the L.A. Daily News, where, according to Kurtz, “he did a fantastic job mixing it up with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the like, so he’s definitely ready for the good and bad actors here.”

New to the (Hyper-)Local Scene

The Post today launched its first community-based blog, the alliteratively named Focus on Fairfax, edited by the current editor of the Fairfax Extra, Steve Fehr.

It’s the paper’s first venture into hyper-local journalism, the type of in-your-neighborhood-news that newspapers are hoping will save them from the heap of irrelevance.

> Anyone else find it remotely coincidental that the Post would launch their first community-oriented blog in the EXACT SAME county covered by the only independent hyperlocal site in the area?

Not Exactly Summer Camp

The New York Times’ Judith Miller, or Inmate No. 45570083 at the Alexandria jail is providing the most interesting “letters home” of the summer. Some of those who have written Miller are receiving a form note in return, reports Washington Whispers’ Paul Bedard.

“I would love to answer personally,” she says, “but there is no typewriter in jail and my hand is worn out.” She continues, “Jail is certainly not how I imagined spending the summer, but it was the only course my conscience would allow.”

Miller also asks recipients to “Write your senators or members of Congress and urge them to support a federal shield law for reporters.”

Briefing Room Invasion

While the Brady Briefing Room may be quiet for one more week, save the jack hammering of carpet renovation in the West Wing,’s Cintra Wilson entertains us with a overview of the heated mid-July events at The White House.

Wilson, present during the “Great McClellan Mauling of ’05,” witnessed the revelation of Karl Rove‘s fingerprints all over the Valerie Plame leak, the Roberts announcement, and the daily battle to “get a scoop.”

Among other things, we learn:

  • Obtaining a White House day-pass isn’t incredibly difficult as Wilson met a lawyer in the briefing room who manufactured his own press card at Kinko’s [this sounds like Eric Brewer of BTCNews];

  • Helen Thomas isn’t pleased with her colleagues’ efforts, noting “This is the most complacent and complicit media I’ve ever seen”;
  • David Gregory is by far “the most aggressive man in front, who got the most blood on the walls in the scraps with [Scott] McClellan.” Wilson adds, “It was ugly, but like a Wimbledon match. There was sweating and gruntin… but overall, it was awfully sportsmanly and polite.”
  • And, in the breaking news category, she finds The White House knows how to “change the conversation.” (see subject, Rovegate headlines to Roberts announcement)

We patiently wait for McClellan and the pool’s return…and the volleys to continue.

Capitol Punishment for Life

Lloyd Grove notes in today’s NY Daily News’ Lowdown that some in Washington are greeting playboy publisher Jason Binn, of the soon-to-launch Capitol File magazine, like an alien invader who must be stopped.

Washington Life’s editor, Nancy Bagley, and her husband, Washington Life CEO Soroush Shehabi “Have been watching with alarm as Binn has hired away their advertising director, persuaded some of their longtime supporters to buy pages in the magazine, and listed many of Washington Life’s longtime friends — sometimes without their explicit per mission — on Capitol File’s advisory board.”

After building an a-list editorial team at File by wooing Kate Gibbs from AOL’s City Guide and Anne Schroeder from the Post’s Reliable Source column, Binn vacuumed up much of Washington’s advertising dollars to fill his super-glossy 350-page publication, slated for launch September 8th.

Grove, who might have a dog in this fight because he brought Schroeder to the Post when he was Reliable Source, notes Binn has been skeptical of Washington Life execs bad-mouthing him inside the Beltway. After “unexpectedly” spotting Bagley and Shehabi at Capitol File’s DC party for actress Fran Drescher, Binn scoffed, “What do you think he was doing there? I would love to tell you what I think, but I’m not going to.”

Was Shehabi crashing the event and discouraging party guests from advertising in File?

Shahabi says no, that her husband had an invite and she simply attended out of curiosity and to wish Binn well.

It appears that two weeks out from File’s “alien invasion” the lightsabers are already swinging and Washington’s magazine war is underway.

> Incidentally, the Capitol File senior staff just finished putting the first issue to bed. Expect it soon….

New Voices

As we mentioned earlier, we’re looking to add some new voices to Fishbowl D.C. Starting today, you’ll be seeing a new “Guest Writer”: we’re going to be trying out a couple of people over the coming weeks. Let us know what you think….

> Also, make sure to check out cousin TVNewser for all the Hurricane Katrina coverage. It’s some impressive stuff.

The Hill Nabs 2nd CQer

The Hill has moved to replace Geoff Earle, who earlier this month announced he was leaving to join the New York Post’s Washington bureau. In the Hill’s second hire away from CQ recently, Jonathan Allen, something of an up-and-comer on the budget beat at CQ, will start at the paper September 12.

He follows Susan Crabtree, who left CQ earlier this year to become an associate editor at the Hill.