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Archives: June 2011

Why Washington D.C. Gossip Sucks

There is only one remark to make about WaPo‘s 1:49 p.m. post this afternoon about the birth of CNN’s John King and Dana Bash‘s newborn son, Jonah.

It was nearly 16 hours late.

Tale of the Tape…

CNN Political Ticker: 10:25 p.m. Tuesday

FishbowlDC: 12:59 a.m.

Politico CLICK: 7:54 a.m.

Politico PLAYBOOK: 8:22 a.m.

TVNewser: 10:47 a.m.

JohnKingUSA blog: 10:43 a.m.

HuffPost: 12:17 p.m.

WaPo’s The Reliable Source: 1:49 p.m.

Note to readers: We’re loathe to include ourselves in this lineup. But if we didn’t, no doubt we’d have readers asking, “So when the hell did you guys report it?” So we are.


When ‘Nature Calls’ for Chuck Todd

Here in the Fishbowl we love details — in fact, the sicker and weirder, the better. But once in a while there are things that give us pause. This morning we encountered one of those moments when we read in The Atlantic‘s “Media Diet” featuring NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Todd starts out the interview by saying that nature wakes him at 4:45 a.m. We don’t think he means chirping birds.

Once that’s all dealt with, and we do hope it all comes out alright, he proceeds to an impressive reading list of newspaper alerts ranging from NYT to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He brags about NBC’s own internal morning note that comes out around 5 a.m. He thinks it should be public (of course, so do we.) His BlackBerry serves as a magnifying glass: “I hold the phone about a quarter inch from my face.” While he touts the NYT as king, there are morsels in Todd’s diet that aren’t on the average radar screen, so it’s worth a read.

Read the whole piece here.

Lindsay Lohan Gets Involved in National Dialogue

Lindsay Lohan isn’t just a young, freckle-faced woman in and out of trouble with the law for shoplifting, partying and a DUI. She has opinions on dire subjects such as, ahem, the Federal Reserve. What’s next — Lindsay to the White House to brief President Obama? Or Lindsay on MSNBC’s “Hardball?”

Today The Daily Caller‘s Laura Donovan reports on Lohan’s thoughts on the matter. “I actually do care about gas and food prices,” Lindsay said on Twitter in response to an attacker.

See the brief posting here.

Greta Infuriated by White House Pooler’s Report

After White House Reporter Carrie Budoff Brown issued Pool Report #5 Tuesday afternoon that included news of a bystander in Iowa holding up a sign that read “Welcome Chocolate Obama,” FNC’s Greta Van Susteren fired back with outrage.

So infuriated was Van Susteren that she put the offending text in a bright orange hue on her Gretawire blog. Budoff Brown, a White House Correspondent for Politico, filed many reports yesterday on President Obama‘s trip to Bettendorf, Iowa. Her reports stand out for their description and attention to detail. In this instance, she included a note on the man with his sign: “It was unclear to the pool exactly what kind of message the guy was trying to send.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Van Susteren.

In her reaction to the “Chocolate Obama” sign, Van Susteren wrote that Budoff Brown had an obligation to acknowledge what she perceived to be the racist nature of the sign.”Where is the decency?” Van Susteren’s blog headline blared. “This is DISGRACEFUL! RACISM” She continued expressing her anger in her post, saying, “What disturbs me further is that the press pool report below doesn’t indicate any outrage by others standing near this man with his sign.  Was there outrage by others?  Or were others who saw it not saying anything?”

She added, “PS – this was unclear to the pool?  Really? What possible innocent explanation could anyone dream up to excuse this?”

The reality is that pool reports rarely, if ever, offer any real opinions on what it is happening. They simply report what is happening, what is worn, said and background information if it is warranted.

We asked Budoff Brown about her report, inquired about the man with the sign as well as Van Susteren’s reaction to it.

“We’re in a motorcade that’s going very very fast and we don’t have much time to do anything but get down what we see and report it out,” Budoff Brown told FishbowlDC. “I obviously didn’t get a chance to talk with the gentleman and report it out and ask him what he meant by it. In short of not knowing what message he was trying to send, I knew I had to have a line [saying as much]. If Greta wanted to know more, she could have written me and asked.”




That’s ‘Congressman’ Blackburn to You

By far the most unusual detail in Roll Call features writer Emily Heil‘s story today on congressional titles comes at the bottom of her story in the second to last graph. The feature, “Be Careful What You Call the Boss,” navigates the tricky terrain of what staffers ought to call those in power. While many members put on that hokey front of “I’m just Rosa,” as in Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), others prefer the more lofty “Chairman” or “Congressman” as the case may be.

For members of the Fourth Estate, calling a member anything other than “Congressman” or “Congresswoman So and So” is unheard of in nearly all circumstances. Since there are so many, it’s handy to be able to say, “Congressman!” while chasing them down a hallway and then look up who they are later. Never works out well to ask a lawmaker, “Who are you again?”

But tricky is putting it mildly in some cases. At the end of Heil’s story, she reports that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) goes by “Congressman.” A woman prefers to be called “Congressman?” We had to hear this with our own ears.

“This wouldn’t happen to be a survey would it?” a male receptionist asked after saying, “Congressman Marsha Blackburn’s office may I help you?”  He transferred me to the press secretary, Claude Chafin, who was not at his desk. It was hard to hear, but we think he said on his voice mail message, “office of Congressman Marsha Blackburn.”

Claude explained by email that, “in part she uses Congressman because it is grammatically correct.” He said office staff indeed calls her “Congressman” as a general practice. But he has heard countless people call her “congresswoman.” She never corrects them — “In the almost four years working for her, I have NEVER heard her correct anyone,” he said. “When people seem confused about an appropriate title, she always says, ‘Please, call me Marsha.’” Claude recounted lore from her first campaign when a farmer asked, “If you win, what are we gonna call you? Congress Lady? Congress Girl?” And she said, “Congressman will do just fine.”

But the spokesman said the “true origin” of the preference comes from Rep. Irene Baker (Sen. Howard Baker‘s step-mother), who was elected to fill out her husband’s term after he died. “At the time there were few women in the house and ‘Congresswoman’ was a condescending term applied by the male members,” he said. “The story goes that Baker insisted on being called ‘Congressman’ as an equality move.” Women who have served after Baker in the Tennessee have carried the title in her honor.

And so it is: Congressman Marsha Blackburn.

Read the Roll Call story here.

Separated at Birth: Politico’s Mike Allen and…

This morning we have an unusual pairing of Politico‘s Mike Allen, who is conjuring up inspiring ideas this week in Aspen, and Prince Albert. That’s right. Allen could pass for royalty. Or at least a body double.

In case you’re not buying this yet, below (right) is a close-up of Prince Albert…

Zzzzz: WaPo Oddly Promotes Pillow to Night Editor

Bring on the snooze button and narcolepsy jokes.

WaPo has promoted a journalist gloriously named Ben Pillow to night editor — and we’re not even messing around. “URGENT BREAKING APTONYM NEWS!” announced humor columnist Gene Weingarten on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. “The Wapo has just promoted, to a position of night editor, ‘Ben Pillow.’”

But it’s Weingarten, who has a penchant for pile of poop jokes, so we had to double and triple check. Sure enough, the internal memo reveals the irony of all ironies — that Pillow really will be the night editor. “We are very happy to announce that Ben Pillow, Deputy Head of Maryland News for The Baltimore Sun, will be joining the Universal News Desk as part of the night homepage team,” the beginning of the memo reads.

Pillow was previously the morning editor, which makes no sense whatsoever.

Wait, are we dreaming? See the rest…

Read more

Good Morning FishbowlDC Readers


Scribe asks the unthinkable

“Holy crap I’m on the radio. …Should I live tweet myself?” — DCist’s Martin Austermuhle in Tuesday mid-day tweets. Um, no. Don’t do that.

The Juiceboxer Rebellion

“Everyone should pay closer attention to my stories than to other people’s stories, which I like to call ‘fixations.’” — TPM‘s Brian Beutler in a bizarro Tuesday tweet that only very narrowly avoided being Unnecessary Tweet of the Day.

The Observer

“Long line at CVS. I am behind a woman buying a hula hoop.” — D.C.-based reporter for LAT and Chicago Tribune James Oliphant in a Tuesday tweet.

Six degrees of nothing

“I am amused when ppl email me & tell me I should pass certain things on 2 Brit Hume, Rove, Krauthammer et al, as I’ve we’re drinking buddies.” — David Limabugh (bro to Rush) in a Tuesday tweet.

Journo Love

“Great news. @YellinCNN is our new chief White House correspondent. Go ahead & congratulate Jessica.” — CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in a Tuesday tweet regarding CNN Jessica Yellin‘s promotion.

Colbert lobbies Alexandra Pelosi for lax press policy

“Will you please ask your mom to take her boot off the neck of the Democrats in Congress so they’ll talk to me again for my Better Know a District series?” — Comedian Stephen Colbert to filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi on his program last night. He was trying to persuade her to chat with her mother, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), about letting Democratic lawmakers come on his show.

What. The. Hell?

“Slightly higher-than-usual amount of My Little Pony activity behind the scenes with DC journos today.” — The Takeaway’s Capitol Hill radio correspondent Todd Zwillich in a Tuesday tweet. He wouldn’t explain further. If anyone has any clues about what this is slang for, write us at or

Josh Marshall questions rules of quiet car

“Woman across from me on Quiet Car is clearing throat with noises that sound like either a frog or chicken. Rule violation? #amtrakethics” — TPM‘s Josh Marshall in a Tuesday tweet.

Back to Reality: On his way back to Washington from Miami this week,’s Ed Hornick, a hardcore “Golden Girls” watcher, writes: “To quote my favorite TV show Golden Girls: ‘Miami is nice so I’ll say it thrice.’”

A belated Happy Birthday to RealClearPoliticsErin McPike. Her birthday was yesterday.

A CNN Prince is Born

It’s a bouncing baby boy for John King and Dana Bash!  While newly-named White House correspondent Jessica Yellin manned “John King, USA” Tuesday evening, CNN’s politicouple welcomed to the world Jonah Frank King.

In response to news of the birth, DC Bureau Chief Sam Feist tweeted congratulations and a prediction that baby King (prince?) would be a “future star political reporter.”  JK USA contributor Erick Erickson countered, saying “I think his dad would much prefer him being a future Red Sox star.”

At least he has options.  Either way, welcome to the Fishbowl, Jonah!

Fun Facts: Jonah King shares his birthday with Kellie Pickler, Kathy Bates, Gilda Radner, Mel Brooks and RealClearPolitics’ Erin McPike. June 28th is also Paul Bunyan Day.

Today’s Most Popular Stories 6.28.11

Every afternoon we surf your sites for the most popular stories of the day. Here are the top headlines for June 28, 2011:

Washington Post: Iran test-fires missiles, shows secret silos

Washington Times: CURL: Obama says everything — and nothing

Washington Examiner: Mainstream media covers up horrifying Obama mistake

Bloomberg: How Wal-Mart Trumped JPMorgan on Debit Cards

USA Today: Al-Qaeda militant leader captured dressed as woman

NPR: The Child Cases: Guilty Until Proved Innocent

The Hill: President, GOP hopefuls descend on Iowa as pivotal straw poll draws near

Politico: Michele Bachmann’s thin legislative résumé

Roll Call: Promoting Palin: ‘The Undefeated’

National Journal: Live From Capitol Hill: Interns, Interns, Everywhere

The New Republic: Obama, The Deficit, And The Long Game

The Daily Caller: Juan Williams warns Obama gay marriage push upsetting to the black community