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Archives: June 2011

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Top 10 Reasons to Read the Kurt Bardella Profile in Washingtonian

Even before Luke Mullins finished conducting interviews for his profile on Kurt Bardella for the July edition of Washingtonian, there was a general fatigue amongst reporters and political aides who felt the story shouldn’t happen.

It was as if political Washington was disgusted with the new publicist for The Daily Caller, who had essentially switched places with former Daily Caller Spokeswoman Becca Glover, and in near unison was asking one question: Why?

When the nine-page profile emerged yesterday afternoon, naysayers were still doubting it with one potential reader saying, “Eh, I didn’t read it. For some reason the whole story bores me.” True, amongst some. But there appears to be an unstoppable wave of Washington profiling some of it’s highly detested self-promoting characters. The recent WaPo profile on Clinton aide Philippe Reines comes to mind. An administration aide remarked to me after, “Why would the Washington Post dedicate 3,000 words to this guy when there are plenty of bigger douchebags in town? There are plenty of people who have worked harder, are smarter, more self-promoting and less liked. But what it did accomplish is to solidify the view that Washington is full of self-publicizing, power-hungry, grade-A penis hammers who think people really care about them, or that they really matter, when they don’t.”

While you digest all that, here’s why you should read this profile:

10. As an infant, Bardella was left in a bundle by the door of a church. Who expected this heartbreaking detail?

9. Bardella has, knowingly or not, yearned for a father figure. The story explains how and why he found one in Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the man who would one day fire him and the one who will one day likely rehire him.

8. The piece reveals a layer of Washington that some reporters and aides know rather intimately. Luke describes it vividly, the aides, the jealousy, particularly the cocktail receptions where some, like Bardella, are dying to see and be seen.

7. The whole methodical layout of Kurt’s plan, phase by phase, to reinstall himself in the Washington political scene is simultaneously fascinating and loathsome to read.

6. While the piece entails much on-the-record sourcing, including old teachers and friends from way back, it’s fun to try to figure out who the anonymous sources who trash him are, such as the GOP political operative. Hmmm…who could it be?

5. The bizarre hero worshiping that happens in Washington. Nothing against CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, we like his distinctive wild animal name and white beard too, but Bardella gets embarrassingly giddy to be in his presence. His adulation of ABC GMA’s George Stephanopoulos is also something of a car crash that needs a witness.

4. Anticipating. Much like Clark Rockefeller, the criminal character in the Lifetime movie who parades around the cocktail circuit, bathing in his own popularity and faux riches, we need to wonder where Bardella goes from here.

3. Understanding the complexities. He rubs GOP aides the wrong way for his self-promotion and aggressive ambition. His relatively new boss, Tucker Carlson, calls him an “animal.” He’s also someone who has lost two major father figures in his life — his first stepfather, then his second. This doesn’t excuse Bardella’s actions of sneaking reporters’ emails to NYT‘s Mark Leibovich, but it certainly helps add texture and likability to a person whom many reporters still don’t trust.

2. It’s a good read for those of us with attention spans of mosquitoes. There are reasons why Mullins has won writing awards and the piece exemplifies them.

1. Above all else, the writer takes a gentle but decisive and detached approach. A reader cannot come away guessing what the author thinks, or even if he likes Bardella. Rather, the attitude is like that of Survivor’s longtime host Jeff Probst. He’s friendly, but he’s not going to help you decide what to think. Here’s the beach. You’re on your own.

 

 

Kastles Kick Off Waterfront Season

D.C. journos and other VIPs got a sneak preview of the Kastles’ new stadium last night at an event dubbed “Wimbledon on the Water.”  Owner Mark Ein and Washington’s winning tennis team treated guests like WUSA’s Brett Haber, HuffPo’s Stephanie Green, WTOP’s Mark Plotkin, Revamp’s Daniel Swartz, K Street Kate Michael, FreeInDC’s Amy Melrose, DistrictTicket’s Steve Fox and CSN’s Joe Beninati to court-side cocktails and hors d’œuvres to kick off the upcoming season and celebrate their move from City Center to swanky new digs on the Southwest Waterfront.

The season starts next week with Venus Williams on Tuesday, July 5th and Serena Williams on Thursday, July 7th and ends July 21st.  For more info or to snag some tickets, click here.

A Fishbowl Fourth of July

For some of us, a Washington Fourth of July is about as desirable as a hot sparkler in the eye.  It’s not that I’m unpatriotic but bridge and tunnel crowds depress me and fireworks don’t impress me (note: the rhyming was unintentional).  Still, in honor of Independence Day FBDC caught up with some Fishbowl faves to find out how they plan to celebrate this year. Fortunately, not everyone in the Fishbowl is jaded like me:

Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “I usually go watch the fireworks from the base of Memorial Bridge (and try to take poorly done photos of the reflections in the Potomac) but I’m in the market for a better spot this year.”

Washington Post’s Amy Argetsinger:  “Seneca Lake, N.Y., with amateur pyrotechnics, a bonfire, and Finger Lakes wine.”

Politico’s Julie Mason:  “I keep waiting for my invite to the South Lawn, but so far the inbox is forsaken.  I am going to a roofdeck party in Columbia Heights (unless I hear from someone with a pool, Sam Youngman).  I plan to celebrate the 4th by disregarding all the people on Facebook, Twitter and cable piously reminding everyone else ‘what this day is really about.’  We know what it’s about. It’s about friends with pools.”

New York Times’ Mark Leibovich: “I’m just gonna talk/tweet/blog endlessly about how fascinating Aspen is, even though I’m not there…”

USA Today’s Susan Page:  “Carl and I will be watching the fireworks, as usual, from the pedestrian walkway on Key Bridge. Fabulous view, nice crowd – and you only have to arrive a half-hour before they begin to get a good spot.  And I’ll be celebrating the 4th of July by doing my part to address the soaring deficit: I have reluctantly decided to renounce my rights to all corporate plane tax breaks.”

Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson: “I’m spending the Fourth in Maine with my kids, as usual. We stage a highly-dorky but mildly amusing reenactment in which I play King George and my wife George Washington. I lose every year.”

In What Countries Would Mark Halperin Have Faced a Worse Punishment for Cussing at the President

For Foreign Policy Magazine’s Joshua Keating, it wasn’t enough that MSNBC suspended TIME‘s Mark Halperin indefinitely for calling President Obama “kind of a d*ck” on this morning’s “Morning Joe.” His thirst for knowledge was greater, he wanted to know more. Specifically, he wanted to learn what countries would have punished Halperin far worse for his cussing spree.

Some of the countries the story examines include Thailand, Turkey, Zimbabwe and Iran. In the Netherlands….well, we’re not going to tell you what can happen there, but let’s just say the man who passed gas as an act of defiance did not fare too well.

Read the story.

MSNBC Suspends Halperin Indefinitely

This just in…

A statement from MSNBC regarding TIME‘s Mark Halperin‘s role as an analyst after calling President Obama a “d*ck” on “Morning Joe” this morning:

Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.

Statement from Mark Halperin:

I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate. Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.

Is Weiner Now in the Doghouse?

Over the weekend, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner and wife, Huma, were spotted in an Italian eatery in Manhattan’s quaint Chelsea neighborhood followed by hand holding and ice cream cones. It played in the New York Daily News as a vision of a couple in normal times with the noteworthy detail that the couple spent lunch on their cell phones.

But just days later, the situation has, at least visibly, changed again. The NYP reported early this morning that the couple is taking some time apart — Huma to an undisclosed location to relax and Weiner to a separate undisclosed destination for what is being called “intense” rehab. What kind of rehab last two weeks is anyone’s guess.

“She is definitely taking time off away from her husband and chilling,” a source said told the NYP. “And he’s going some place for at least a couple of weeks.”

Good Morning FishbowlDC Readers

QUOTES of the DAY

Slate’s Dave Weigel in Aspen: “IT’S SO INTENSE”

What journalists can expect to hear from the W: ‘No comment

“A long, long day of not commenting lies ahead.” — Publicist Barbara Martin, who handles PR for the W Hotel in Washington, in a Thursday morning tweet the morning after a woman fell to her death from the rooftop of the hotel. Details are still emerging, but reports state the woman was drinking and was hanging from the roof before she fell 10 floors.

TV reporter praises Britney

“Reporters spend a lot of time in cars listening to radio. thank god for Britney Spears! 28th” — ABC7′s Stephen Tschida in a Wednesday tweet. And in completely unrelated shampoo news about his dog: “Changed puppy ‘Henry James’ shampoo to oatmeal. He stopped scratching the next day. Guess he has a sensitive scalp.”

Is this good news or bad news?

“Just went over 15K tweets. That’s several books’ worth of words.” — Mother Jones‘ Washington Bureau Chief David Corn in a Wednesday tweet.

Bio of the Day

FNC’s Ed Henry: “FOX News Chief White House Correspondent-to-be, Dad, Husband, NY Yankees nut — not necessarily in that order”

Journo strangeness

“I am eating at hotel bar which seems to be having an unannounced reggae and couples-of-reckless-affection convention. For my part I’m talking to the baseball highlights playing on the t.v. People are moving away, as they often do.” — Slate’s John Dickerson in a Wednesday tweet.

Ouch.

“BTW @AlecBaldwin, I too use a profile pic that was accurate 25 pounds ago.” — FakeHowardKurtz in a Wednesday tweet.

Savage lives it up in the East Room

“We can scream and yell and be dicks and wear buttons” and still eat Obama’s cupcakes and drink his champagne, Savage said.” — Raunchy sex advice columnist Dan Savage in a White House Pool Report by Politico‘s Julie Mason on Wednesday night. He attended a pride reception in the East Room of the White House earlier in the day with his husband, Terry Miller.

Obscenely Late But Worth the Wait

“Any idea why my iPhone would be behaving as if I’m pushing buttons when I’m not?” — Slate‘s Dave Weigel in an early June tweet.  To which one of our favorites, @FakeJimVandehei replied, “Because you’re drunk.”

Uh oh. Rehab bound?

“Remember when I surpassed 50k tweets earlier this year? I just surpassed 80k. I need an intervention.” — NPR’s Andy Carvin in a Thursday morning tweet.

Morning Apologalooza

It’s just after 9 a.m. and the morning is already dripping with apologies and regret.

Shortly after 6 a.m., TIME‘s Mark Halperin called President Obama a d*ck  on “Morning Joe.” Politico‘s Andy Barr and Patrick Gavin were first in Washington to tweet on the matter. “I thought he was a d*ck yesterday,” Halperin told the morning panel. Scarborough immediately called out for a delay. “Delay that, delay that,” he said. Not even an hour later the apologies began flowing and at 7:07 a.m. a full story appeared on Politico‘s website by Tim Mak. Halperin took “full responsibility” for his gaffe and apologized.

But on cable TV one apology is never enough, as evidenced by Ed Schultz‘s recent on-air apology fest to Conservative Commentator Laura Ingraham for calling her “a slut.” Just after 8 a.m. more apologies ensued on “Morning Joe.” This time, however, it was more of a family apology as the entire show took responsibility for Halperin’s use of profanity. “We goaded you into saying it, we didn’t think you were going to say it,” co-host Mika Brzezinksi reasoned. At this point viewers listening closely could hear an audible and defensive “Well…” out of co-host Joe Scarborough, who then trailed the others into a sort of collectively awkward apology zone and said Halperin wanted to be “totally clear.”

This set the stage for yet another Halperin apology: “I want to be totally clear. I can’t explain why I did it. It was inappropriate. It was disrespectful. I’ve already apologized. I will again to the President and say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to viewers. It was the kind of thing that I can’t really explain, but I take full responsibility for it. It was a mistake and as I said, disrespectful, and I shouldn’t have said it.”

Scarborough interjected, “And Mika and I certainly apologize to the viewers.”

But Halperin wasn’t done. He had more to add. “What I said was disrespectful to the President, but it also lowers our discourse and coarsens our discourse and it’s just not appropriate on any level,” he said.

Scarborough also soon jumped back on the apology boat. “This was a mistake on a variety of levels,” he continued. “We all share it and we all apologize.” The camera then turned to co-host Willie Geist, who also, inexplicably, apologized. “We pride ourselves on not being that kind of show,” he said in what was assumed to be a wrap-up of the apology segment. “Today there was a slip by Mark Halperin. He’s a great reporter, and we won’t bore you with the whole back story, but he didn’t intend to say it on television. We apologize for the entire show.”

Next up: Apologies from the control room. Let’s begin with Alex, the employee likely to get a severe seven-second delay button training later today: Scarborough: “Just say you’re sorry, Alex.” Alex, with obvious fright in his voice, dutifully replied, “I’m profoundly sorry as well.” But Scarborough couldn’t leave it alone and this was probably the most comical part of Apologalooza. “What about TJ? We usually blame TJ for everything.”

The camera panned to a rather unemotional TJ in the control room.

“Sure, I’m sorry,” he said, in what was the most lackluster apology of the show.

UPDATE: MSNBC has suspended Halperin indefinitely.

Meet Teresa: the New WaPo/NPR Fellow

Teresa Tomassoni has been named the Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow.

She’ll do a stint at WaPo following by one at NPR.

The fellowship was created to commemorate the deaths of two brothers who were killed in a highway crash in July 2009. Tomassoni, a member of the 2010 J-School class of The City University of New York, has worked as a counselor for sex trafficking victims. “I chose to pursue journalism as a means to educate the public about complex social issues like human trafficking,” she explained to CUNY Newswire.

Tomassoni’s fellowship begins in the fall.

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