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Archives: July 2011

Daily Caller‘s Anti-Politico Policy Goes Up in a Blaze

This week The Daily Caller and Politico got into a public war with internal ramifications. Initially it was over a story that The Daily Caller‘s Jonathan Strong broke about Rep. Michele Bachmann‘s (R-Minn.) migraine headaches.

After Strong broke the story, Politico assigned a few reporters the task of finding out more and rewriting it. They credited The Daily Caller, but not without calling the publication “conservative” and not without using the word “confirming.” The sentiment that translated: Politico has “confirmed” what The Daily Caller has written.

That didn’t sit well with The Daily Caller‘s Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, who then instituted an office-wide policy of referring to Politico as liberal. The decision was largely emotional and many reporters interpreted Carlson’s edict over email as half-joking. After all, he told them, from then on Politico was to be referred to as a liberal publication based in suburban Virginia. The new Executive Editor, David Martosko, (the dude with a seriously long rap sheet) took the letter of Carlson’s law so seriously that he was intent on sifting through old stories and adding the words.

Martosko did not ultimately go through with his mission. Nor did the new policy last. As the week wore on, The Daily Caller had its first leak to a conservative New York-based publication called The Blaze, which reported the alleged new policy by way of an anonymous source. This marked trouble within the ranks of The Daily Caller, a young publication known for its fraternity-like atmosphere. No betrayal of this nature had ever happened. Some chalk it up to inevitable growing pains.

But an office meltdown ensued. Publicist Kurt Bardella sent a sharp but polite note to reporters saying all press inquiries need to go through him, Carlson or Martosko, an act that some reporters found condescending even if that was not his intention. We’re told this was among some 30 emails Bardella sends internally daily. Others are, at times, relieved by Bardella’s insistence on a certain way of handling things, thinking “Thank God” when he steers the publication away from negative press. Carlson, meanwhile, held an office meeting, expressed anger over the leak, and encouraged staffers to come talk to him and get whatever they need to off their chests.

The gist of the office meeting: Don’t go blabbing to other publications about internal matters. Colleagues have one solid suspect, but no one would bet their lives on the mole’s identity. And so far, no one has cracked under the stresses of intense peer gossip.

Since the migraine story, other anti-Politico stories have emerged on The Daily Caller website that irked Politico. They include a spate of stories insinuating that Politico leans liberal — one about Politico‘s David Rogers, another on Politico reporter Andy Barr leaving the publication to go work for the Democratic Party in Arizona.

Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, who wouldn’t comment on this matter further, told The Blaze, “I know Tucker well, and feel quite confident he doesn’t actually believe we are a partisan publication. Just like our other readers, Tucker knows we pride ourselves in fairness and fact-based reporting. Perhaps it was a simple editing error in his shop.”

Carlson would not speak to FishbowlDC on the record for this story. A quick scan of The Daily Caller website, however, shows a story on Politico and it is not described as a suburban liberal publication. Although reporters have not be told that the policy has been nixed, the idea of the office-wide policy is dead in the water.

Even so, we highly suspect the spark of tension between the two publications is far from over.

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The Power Inside a Power Party

Washington is known for its “important” power lists. Most publications have them. There are lists for top lobbyists like Washingtonian‘s “Hired Guns: The City’s 50 Top Lobbyists.” Both The Hill and Roll Call also boast top lobbyist lists. There are lists for important people everywhere (TIME‘s 100), for socialites (Washington Life‘s Young and the Guest List) and there’s FNC’s “Power Player of the Week.” This week The Hill presented their annual summer “50 Most Beautiful People of Capitol Hill.”

Politico‘s 50 to Watch party Thursday night at Barcode in downtown D.C. was unusual in that not even those attending knew whether they had made the list or whether they were just being invited to a party with booze and balloons.

“I had no idea. I had no clue,” remarked ABC News White House Correspondent Ann Compton on her way into the party upon discovering that she’d made the list under the category of New Deans of the White House Press Corps. “What fun!” She continued, “Having been here since I was brand new at 27, to be discovered is really cool.”

Many who didn’t make the list made jokes. NRSC Spokesman Brian Walsh told me he was unofficially #51. And Sen. John Thune‘s (R-S.D.) press secretary Kyle Downey agreed to be #53. Walsh’s illustrious dog, Rudy, slid in at #52.

HuffPost-AOL Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington showed up just to mingle. She knew she hadn’t made the list. Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) made the list and few understood why with all the “formers” in his title.

The concept of a power list? “It’s very Washington,” said a GOP flack at the party who wished to remain anonymous.

A sampling of who made the list: CBS News’ Mark Knoller and Bill Plante, American Urban Radio’s April Ryan,  fundraisers like Alison Baker of Straus Baker, Paula Dukes of Rizzo Dukes Group, Joanna Brooks, a religion columnist, Greg Giroux of Bloomberg Government, David Waldman, a liberal blogger. TV Faces included Brett Baier (FNC), Sam Feist (CNN), David Gregory (NBC), Phil Griffin (MSNBC) and Norah O’Donnell (CBS).

Waiters and bartenders at the party had chiseled physiques and wore tight-fitting Politico T-shirts. “What’s not to like?” replied one waiter when asked if he liked the T-shirt. “It says Politico. And then people ask me what Politico is and I have no idea.”

Oh, look! Another White House Dean. April Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio who most recently landed a seat on the WHCA board, also made the list. Like Compton, she was surprised and tickled to make the cut. “It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m thankful. It’s nice that someone recognized the work I do. I wasn’t doing anything to be recognized. I just do my job. It’s an honor.”

WaPo‘s Jonathan Capehart was in the crowd. Asked what these power lists accomplish, he replied, “The most important thing they do is they let people know quite possibly who they should be paying attention to in a serious manner rather than the folks they are already paying attention to. Most of the time the people we think are important aren’t as important as we think they are or they think they are.”

Politico‘s Mike Allen (pictured above in a photograph that makes him look like a cartoon character) had a different, POLITICO (all caps) sort of response when asked to comment on the list. “This is the next generation of newsmakers,” he said. “These are the people who are going to win the cycle.”

Some were excited about the list. “I like the lists,” said ABC’s Polson Kanneth. “Everyone loves a good list.”

As mentioned earlier, The Hill‘s “50 Most Beautiful People of Capitol Hill” came out this week. Party banter inevitably turned to it. One male who had previous been on the beauty list expressed shock over this year’s list. He looked almost embarrassed to have once been on it. Another partygoer expressed outrage, “It’s not just that they were not that attractive. It’s that some were actively ugly.”

While the bar quickly filled with political and media types who appeared to be enjoying themselves, not everyone there was so hot on the concept of power lists. An intern from Ghana perusing the 50 Politicos to Watch glossy magazine at the bar remarked on lists like this in general: “They’re all corrupt. But I have no evidence to prove that.”

And there was publicist Janet Donovan, who also doesn’t appear to think much of lists. “I hate lists,” said Donovan. Drifting into the crowd of important people and those watching them, she added, “They’re condescending.”

For more on the White House Deans, read Politico Patrick Gavin‘s story here.

Find out who else was in the crowd…

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WTOP Interns Step Into Limelight

WTOP summer interns made an impression this summer by recently making it onto the giant screen “ Jumbotron” at Nationals Stadium in Washington.  The all-news radio station has 15 interns this Summer, and sister station WFED has another two.

Luckily for them, this post isn’t called “WTOP Gone Wild.”

WaPo’s Achenbach: Tomorrow at the Newseum

Author and veteran Washington Post journalist Joel Achenbach will appear tomorrow in the Newseum’s Knight TV Studio at 2.30 pm.  As part of the Inside Media series, Achenbach will discuss his new book “A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher.”  The seven-time author’s latest work draws on a trove of unpublished government email and exclusive interviews to trace the errors that led to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and reveal the reasons why BP may have set the stage for disaster.  Seating for this program is on a space-available basis.  A book signing will follow.  For more info on the event, click here.

Whoa! Politico Summer School-Really?

For any interns out there who have dreams of one day working hard, getting yelled at by Tim Grieve and rarely sleeping, then this may be the camp for you.

It’s called Politico Summer School. The publication is offering it to interns who want to have “the most fun summer school you’ll ever attend.” God, if they put it like that, where the hell do we sign up? They will learn what it’s like to be a reporter from the likes of Politico Playbook great Mike Allen and NBC’s Chuck Todd, to name a few listed in the lineup.

Here’s an invitation that Capitol Hill intern Colin Campbell received. “Finally, some love for us scummy interns,” he wrote us. His Twitter (he’s really okay if we promote it) is @colincjcampbell.

Dear Colin,

Join POLITICO for the most fun summer school you’ll ever attend! POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Emily Schultheis will chat with Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd about how they got started in politics and their careers in public service.

Details: Aug. 3; Newseum
Join the Conversation: @POLITICOSummer

Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Colin is already salivating at the thought of attending Politico Summer School. He told me over email, “Are you kidding me?! I roll out of bed each morning in hopes of waking up to an email from my man crush Mike Allen. I’ve been trying to grow a Chuck Todd goatee since I was 10. I’ll have more thrills running up my leg than Chris Matthews on election night!” He added in a subsequent email (as if we couldn’t tell), “Heck ya I’m excited!”

Roll Call Picks Up ‘Strong’ Reporter From The Daily Caller for its House Leadership Team

The Daily Caller‘s congressional reporter Jonathan Strong is picking up and moving to Roll Call to join the pub’s House leadership team.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a great team at Roll Call!” Strong told FishbowlDC.

As many know, he broke the recent Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) migraine headache story that quickly spread across the airwaves. He’s also responsible for breaking that RNC bondage night club story that became a hit. Over the weekend he appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

This is clearly a boon for Roll Call. No doubt, his friends and colleagues at The Daily Caller are sad to see him go. All the best to him in his new post.

See the memo…

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Photo Fun: Fuzzy Pickle Edition

Today’s photo fun feature is dedicated to “Picture Day.”  If your elementary school was anything like mine, Picture Day meant standing single file -  like teeny, tiny Russians in a bread line – as your teacher handed out plastic combs for last-minute coiffing.  While waiting for your closeup, you compared picture package order forms with your friends and ultimately determined which kid’s parents loved them the most and which kid was an accident.  Then a decidedly-douchey photographer forced you to say stupid sh*t like “fuzzy pickle” before snapping your picture.  Yes, those were the days…

In honor of Picture Day victims everywhere, we bring to you this elementary school  photo of a well-known political reporter.  Can you guess which member of the Washington press corps said “fuzzy pickle” just moments before this mugshot was snapped?  Hints:  he was hired twice for the same job.  He’s more familiar with the inside of congressional office than most political journos.  His current employer may be the hare of Cap. Hill news but he was a terrapin in college.

Answer after the jump.

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Brunswick Group Converts WSJ’s Stephen Power

Stephen Power is heading to the dark side.  It was announced today that the Wall Street Journal reporter plans to abandon his beat and join the wonderful world of communications as a Director in Brunswick Group’s Washington, D.C. office.

A seasoned journalist, Power has covered both energy policy and the automotive industry during his 11 year run  with WSJ.  Prior to that, he reported business and local news for The Dallas Morning News and covered the Pacific Northwest for Gannett News Service.  Power begins his new gig on August 15th.  Congrats to Stephen!

Late Night Non-Voting Weirdness…

This gives new meaning to the expression “Let sleeping dogs lie.” When Capitol Hill stays up late, things can get a little far out. Pizza sheds. Journo fights with cops. But only in this strange world of constant online communication could this occur. When Fox News commentator Dana Perino and WaPo‘s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin bonded over the important matter of their sleeping dogs, Henry and James.

“And…he’s out. #HenryVizsla has given up on staying up for the vote.” — Perino wrote on Twitter. Rubin wrote to Perino and said, “@DanaPerino James the English Setter is snoozing too.”

The FishbowlDC Interview with Bloomberg’s Sophia Yan

Say hello to Bloomberg‘s Sophia Yan. You won’t find her whistling while she works. And she can’t, for some reason, snap her fingers. She is so modest – when you Google her it says she has won many awards for her magnificent piano playing, such as from the Steinway Society Competition and the New York Piano Competition. Yan didn’t tell us a thing about it because she says it seemed unrelated. Nonetheless she is a famous piano player who has played the likes of Carnegie Hall. She just won another award in June and has two concerts in Washington in August. A word of warning: Be sure to feed Yan the journalist every two hours. Or else.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Izze pomegranate fizzy juice

How often do you Google yourself? Never. Google Alerts do the job.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Mm. Plead the Fifth.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Kaity Tong. I grew up watching her on the evening news. And Michael Duffy. Because he’s successful, hysterical and humble.

Do you have a favorite word? Any verb that describes eating. Chow, gorge, slurp.

Who would you rather have dinner with – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews or FNC’s Chris Wallace? Why do I need to pick? Can I have dinner with both?

You are ordered to go on a road trip to an undisclosed location. You can go with White House Spokesman Jay Carney or Bo, the President’s Portuguese Water Dog. No ones feelings will be hurt. Who do you take? Bo’s a cutie.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? Nimble Beat

When did you last cry and why? Few days ago. Stubbed my toe.

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