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Archives: February 2012

Media Matters Ultra Private Book Party

Politico’s Ken Vogel questions David Brock. Brock speaks to the crowd.

Media Matters held a strictly invitation-only book party last night at its downtown Washington headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. No crashers were permitted. No guests of invitees were allowed in.

“Have a good night!” The Daily Caller‘s Nick Ballasy called to me as he stood wistfully with a camera crew a healthy distance away from the building.  He groused that no one worthy of interviewing had yet entered the building. (Considering the ongoing series on MMFA, no one from The Daily Caller was getting within spitting distance of the party.)

In some ways it felt like the Gap. There was a female greeter outside the door. Once inside I was led to highly organized RSVP tables where they checked me in and gave me a bright red bracelet that read, The Fox Effect. This would be the book co-written by MMFA Founder David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Upstairs on the sixth floor there was another greeter, this time a male employee in a dark blazer stationed outside to say hello.

Reid was among the evening’s speakers. But rumor had it that he might not be able to attend because of votes so they were still scrambling for who would be their keynote speakers. But soon enough the waif of a Senate Majority Leader wandered in with a small entourage, complete with security personnel with a clear wire in his ear. Reid is soft-spoken and quiet and doesn’t make a big splash.

So when Politico‘s Ken Vogel (who isn’t exactly shy) approached and tried to ask questions, Reid politely took Vogel’s business card and stuffed it back into Vogel’s front shirt pocket and told him he wasn’t there to do interviews. Vogel returned to a small gaggle that included HuffPost‘s Ryan Grim and MMFA Publicist Jess Levin, and regaled us with the story as well as stories of liberal haters who came after him when he covered then-Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s (D-N.Y.) ’08 campaign. Vogel’s a decent storyteller – there were death threats, Jew-hater insults and more. He said he got more hate mail from liberals than conservatives.

WaPo‘s Erik Wemple was spotted mingling in the crowd. He mentioned that he’d had lunch with FBDC lover Ryan Kearney of the illustrious TBD the day before. I told Wemple that we had been offering Kearney daily career counseling. I silently cursed MMFA for having not having the good sense to invite Kearney so we could finally meet face to face.

Aside from hippy, frumpy, bushy-haired MMFA employees (they have good excuses for their crumpled look, they watch Fox News relentlessly around the clock) other notables in the crowd: Hollywood on the Potomac writer and publicist Janet Donovan, Bullfight Strategies’ Eric Burns (former President of Media Matters) and Karl Frisch (also formerly of MMFA). Burns by far had the best party hair – his coiffe was thick, spiky and impeccable.

The crowd was deceptively entertaining. Genius Rocket Chairman Mark Walsh was screwing around with lobbyist David Jones‘ name tag and said he was going to wear it and get intoxicated. “I’m going to get drunk and vomit,” Walsh promised. Jones, meanwhile, was busy talking up Brock. “His book, Blinded by the Right, was the most defining book in politics of the 90s,” he told me. “It showed behind the scenes attacks on President Clinton from the inside. That’s why I’m here.”

Soon enough the speeches got underway. Standing before the crowd was Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Reid and Brock. At one point Reid made a decently funny joke about the digitized world we’re living in and used his digits, as in his fingers. Franken laughed extra loud and looked at him with a just a hint of surprise that he could actually be funny.”Surprisingly he doesn’t talk very much,” Reid said of Franken, “but when he does, we listen.” Al’s wife, Franni Franken, was in the crowd. “No, more, More, MORE!” she said, heckling her funnyman husband.

Reid thanked Brock for his service to the Democratic Party and promised his own in return. “I thank him for all he has done for the Democratic Caucus and the Senate,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this book is a success.”

Though Franken cracked a number of genuinely funny jokes, Brock initially looked ill at ease. He seemed to loosen up when it was his turn to speak and he got a chance to do what he does best — skewer Fox News.

“The bottom line is this is not a news channel at all,” Brock told the crowd. “It’s like the Republican National Committee, but they do a better job in our view.” Then he fed his brand of red meat to the liberal crowd, exclaiming, “Glenn Beck no more.” The crowd cheered: “WOO HOO!” And more. Brock said the fact that FNC President Roger Ailes has said the network needs a “course correction” means “they are feeling the pressure.”

Asked if he felt Fox News would help his book sales, Brock replied, “Fox is giving us a lot of free publicity these days, I’ll say that much.” As for The Daily Caller‘s ongoing series on him and whether he felt that would also help boost his book, he had nothing to say. Nor did anyone else in the room. “I’m not commenting on that right now,” he said, as he walked in unusual diagonal zigzags away from the vicinity of my notebook.

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Roland Martin to Air Special Web Program

Despite being benched at CNN, Roland Martin is carving his own path through Super Tuesday, when he will anchor a special web edition of “Washington Watch.”

On Tuesday, March 6, TV One Cable Network’s chief political editor will host a special Super Tuesday edition of his news show from Howard University’ School of Business Theatre, 2600 Sixth Street. He will broadcast live on the web from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

The event will be a three-hour live web broadcast.

“There is considerable interest among African Americans in this election year, just as it was in 2008,” said Martin in a release. “We want to be able to weigh in on the election results by offering a unique perspective that will not be heard on any other cable news or broadcast channel. By having a live audience of nearly 300 Howard University students, we will also be engaging a significant part of the electorate.”

It won’t all be painfully serious. Comedian Huggy Lowdown will provide comedy for the broadcast.

What will Martin discuss? Who will his guests be? See after the jump…

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Aide Says Anthony Was a Weiner To His Staff

Ben Fishel was all bright-eyed and smiling at Media Matters for America’s book party last night for organization founder David Brock. The only thing we knew when we first approached him was that he is the late Andy Rooney‘s grandson. But there’s so much more to this fresh faced young man in a blue checkered shirt and dark tie.

For one thing, he was the press secretary to ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) who first encouraged the congressman to use Twitter. For another, Weiner basically canned him two weeks before the scandal broke. The departure, he explained, was something in between a contentious quitting and a firing.

Fishel, now the press secretary, for the nerdier, wonkier lawmaker and previously a press employee for MMFA for four years, hasn’t spoken publicly about working for Weiner until now. But last night he revealed a few choice details about how Weiner treated his staff. (We’re talking aides, not penis. We know how he treated his member.)

“I had words with him, ” recalled Fishel, who worked for Weiner for one year. “We butted heads. He was really a jerk and called women on the staff ‘fat.’ … He was so unbelievably cruel.” Fishel, who acknowledged the congressman had a quick wit and stood politically for all the things he did, reasoned, “People make mistakes with their penis all the time.” But being cruel? That’s a “day to day decision” a person consciously makes. While other aides would cower under Weiner’s domineering demeanor, he challenged him and called him out for the way he treated office employees. That didn’t go over so well.

Fishel explained that he was the one who initially tried to persuade Weiner to go on Twitter. He sent him a memo detailing why the lawmaker ought to sign up for Twitter. Though he sat mere feet from the congressman, the office red tape was an intriguing clusterf&%k: First he’d write the memo and an executive assistant would take it to the congressman. Next, the congressman would mark up the memo and fax it back to Fishel. “It was very bizarre,” he said.

At first Weiner shooed away Twitter as “trite.” Fishel gave up. But soon Weiner rolled back around and signed up for the Social Media tool that would be his demise. Said Fishel, “I didn’t think I had to brief him on that.”

We attempted to reach Weiner via his Twitter account. His account is up, but he doesn’t seem to use it anymore.

Read about what the aide describes as Weiner’s revolving door of hires as well as Rooney’s phone call to Fishel about Weiner…

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Reporter Feels the Need for Speed

ReutersSam Youngman is known for keeping his followers up to speed on all of his latest travels as he criss-crosses the country covering the conservative contests. Today, we got an interesting email from Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the DNC, that took one of Youngman’s tweets to imply that Mitt Romney had committed yet another one of his trademark gaffes regarding his wealth and social standing. The Woodhouse email has the heading of “You know, this guy just can’t help himself” and includes this tweet from Youngman:

Woodhouse says that he hopes there is video of the comment for their next “out of touch” ad. We reached out to Youngman to get his thoughts on his tweet being used by the DNC. He tells FishbowlDC, “Welcome to the new campaign. I didn’t think this was an out-of-touch moment. Seemed like a joke to me. But I report, and both sides react. Not all that different than when they send our clips around. I welcome all followers. Frankly, I was surprised to discover I have followers who aren’t pornbots or Kentucky basketball fans.”

On top of all that excitement, Youngman also reported on Twitter that he had a run-in with the law last night… Read more

UPDATED: FNC Goes ‘Space Cowboy’ for Primary Analysis

Following Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s victories in the Arizona and Michigan primaries, Fox News panelists broke out their finest bandanas for dorkfest analysis.

Seen above are FNC’s Chris Wallace flanked by political strategists Karl Rove (left) and Joe Trippi (right).

In a tweet, FNC’s Bret Baier described the Broke Back moment as “Space Cowboys.”

We asked FNC’s PR department about the matter. We also sent a note to Baier by Twitter. We’ll update if they let us know the deeper meaning behind those bandanas.

UPDATE: Wallace commented on the bandanas, telling FBDC in an email:

“When Karl, Joe, and I started doing our panel for the primary season, I started calling them the “Space Cowboys”—from the movie about old-timers who come back and save the day, Karl loved it, and showed up Tuesday night with 3 bandanas.  When we were doing our second to last hit at 11:15 last night, we decided to put them on—to celebrate the fact that Karl and Joe had called the Michigan race with their back of the envelope calculations an hour before all the computers did.  The Space Cowboys came through again.”

White House Soup of the Day

The White House Soup of the Day, as reported by MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” is…

Cream of Broccoli.

Host Chuck Todd became all grouchy today about the soup. In characteristic food critic fashion, Todd remarked, “Cream of Broccoli? Ugh. Really? This is a day, come on, we’re honoring Iraq war veterans. Do we really want to be feeding them cream of broccoli? Hopefully the state dinner has a little something nicer than cream of broccoli.”

Two Female Scribes Play Nice on Twitter

Twitter can be obnoxious in the way that reporters call one another out for mistakes in a public forum. Why not just write them privately? Because, of course, that would defeat the purpose of public humiliation. Here’s an example of two reporters — one from HuffPost, another from Politico — who engaged politely during last night’s primary coverage. It was no less obnoxious, mind you, as Politico honchos and colleagues likely saw the exchange. But hey, at least it didn’t end in a brawl.

HuffPost‘s Elise Foley began with this mild scolding of Politico‘s Juana Summers: “Unfortunate phrasing? MT @jmsummers: Santorum hitting women hard here, talking about his mother and wife ‘who is as strong as they get.’”

Juana wrote back, “.@elise_foley Gonna be fixing that one.”

Elise suddenly realized how she sounded. “@jmsummers Ha, sorry, I was being kind of a twitter brat. I got what you meant.”

Juana quickly took the high road and made Elise feel better about calling her out. “@elise_foley No, I got it. Someone else on the press table got my attention too. I appreciate it.”

Juana ultimately altered her tweet. And Elise RT it. “RT @jmsummers: Santorum talking up women — talking about his mother and wife “who is as strong as they get.”



Offended Viewer Blasts Washington Journo

A longtime Washington journalist received this love note this morning from a fan.

“This BLANK guy is terrible. I was personally offended and insulted by his ignorant comments last week about Mississippi. I’m from the South and we’re not all “crackers who chase their cousin’s skirts.” This is not the first time this BLANK guy has sounded like an ASSHOLE.”

The scribe remarked to FishbowlDC: “At least he didn’t call me a skank.”

Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day

Rolling Stone writer annoys himself

“So yeah I deleted that last tweet because I was starting to annoy myself.” – Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings.

HuffPost Hill‘s Eliot Nelson‘s ingenious albeit violent idea: “If I could smother Twitter with a pillow right now, I would.”

Modern Journo Mysteries

“Things I don’t get: People who have ‘political junkie’ in their bio who unfollow me after I tweet exit polls.” — NJ‘s Ethan Klapper.

Editor introduces new word into zeitgeist: ‘fartknocker’

“Keep in mind kids, we must unite after primaries. I hope to not personally dislike ppl because they acted like a fartknocker for their guy.” — Big Journalism Editor and CNN Contributor Dana Loesch.

What’s all the fuss about outside NPR?

“Random cheering and shouting outside NPR HQ. Is it a) someone really excited about #azprimary; b) random DC protest; c) a pack of Caps fans?” — NPR interactive designer Alyson Hurt. NPR PR has gotten back to us and is getting to the bottom of it. Stay tuned…They not one hundred percent on it, but they suspect it was Caps Fans — the team won in overtime.

Conservative scribe subjects himself to night of MSNBC

“I feel like living on the edge tonight. As such, I just ate and am going to flip to MSNBC. Pray for me. #Caring” — Contributor and occasional WMAL radio host Derek Hunter.

Malkin handles unseemly follower

Let’s face it. Some followers can be a–holes. After one remarked, “God MM just go away!” HotAir’s Michelle Malkin replied, “Welcome to Twitter. Meet the unfollow button.”

Ron Paul and media coverage

After Politico‘s Jonathan Martin said Ron Paul got an awful lot of attention for a guy who keeps losing, RealClearPoliticsErin McPike remarked, “Eh, the media just got really, really sick of all the hate mail and the nasty comments from his supporters.”

Roll Call tweaks Ann Romney Speech

“Ann Romney just won an Oscar, apparently.” — Roll Call in an unusually snappy tweet late last night after Ann took to the airwaves to discuss the tip of her Mitt as her hubby somehow scored Michigan.

Baier Vomit

A follower writes, “Thanks for the great coverage tonight Bret.” FNC’s Bret Baier retweets the compliment and says, “We’re trying hard ;) ”  While we like Baier’s relentless determination to respond to every yahoo that writes him, retweeting compliments is nauseating.

Necessary Quote of the Day

“Bugg is benevolent. Bugg is wise. Bugg eats pie for breakfast.” — Metro Weekly‘s Randy Shulman, who is of course referring to Metro Weekly Co-Publisher Sean Bugg. Bugg, where are you these days? Strawberry Lane?

What’s missing from Romney’s campaign?

“There’s not a lot of poetry in his campaign. It’s who he is.” — NBC “MTP” host David Gregory on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning.

Diary of ‘Skanky’ News Ethics

Over the past four days, a story I wrote about female scribes and what I deemed their “provocative” and “sexpot” Twitter avatars has made the rounds in different publications on the web. I published the story Thursday and, much to my surprise, it went viral in a way I had not experienced before. It took on a hateful life of its own and not one entirely based in reality.

The headline that made the feminists and others go wild: “Female Campaign Reporters Go for Sexpot Look.” After it published, I was called a number of colorful terms: Slut, Skank, “loose in the bedroom.” Contrary to those strangers who labeled me slutty, I was also told I needed to “get laid.” And then I was told to “watch my ass.” NYT‘s media guru David Carr remarked on Twitter, “Apparently, @fishbowlDC has lost every marble she ever had and started a dreamy wonk throwdown.” I only wish I could seek psychotherapy from Carr — and borrow some of his marbles. But this is par for the course these days in the world of online journalism. I do not think my story was earth shattering, nor did it break any actual news. But it introduced a subject matter that hit an unexpected nerve.

As the name-calling hit a fever pitch Thursday afternoon, the only journalist who sought an actual quote from me was Matt Wells of The Guardian. The outlet published a story the following day. Later, others sought me out — an old boss in California who I’d worked with in Florida wrote, “Shades of Boca. Go get ‘em!” And friends who worried about all the nastiness they were reading on Twitter reached out to say hello. One, a female reporter friend in New York, texted to say, “Sheesh, people get way way too worked up about these things. They all need to relax. By tomorrow people will have a whole other thing to fixate on. Sending good thoughts your way – can’t be easy dealing with how toxic people are.” Meanwhile, a reporter friend in Kiev, wrote in to say, “Now in Kiev, where they desperately need a Fishbowl. Lots of sex, lies, videotape, etc.” A longtime source Jason Roe, a GOP campaign consultant now based in San Diego, wrote an email with the subject line: “I don’t hate you.” I laughed. I’m no victim here, but it’s hard not to feel touched by those who check in during the storm. He also wrote, “It does go to show how thin-skinned DC people are. There is never a single day that I miss being there. And now, I’m going to have an afternoon beer at a beachside dive bar.”

On Friday, 78,989 page views later, the hate continued. Feminists called me a “horrible writer” and a “horrible person.” They said I had “viciously attacked” women for simply having photos. They LOLed their way through the day by personally insulting me. BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith threw himself to the wolves (we’re not close but have always had a respectful rapport) by writing on Twitter, “In sincere defense of @FishbowlDC: It’s nice to have a DC journo or two who doesn’t care what her peers think of her.” The public stoning participants went wild. “Oh fuck you dude,” one wrote to Smith. A feminist wrote simply, “Huh?” and proceeded to shriek at Smith for being wrong.

One reporter who continues  to be enthralled by the story is Hunter Walker, a political reporter for The New York Observer, who published a 2000-word piece on the matter on Friday night and another update yesterday. I’ve never met him, but Hunter previously worked at Gawker as well as mediabistro’s FishbowlNY. From the start, he took a leading role in the procession of predominately New York-based reporters and feminists who somehow felt violated by my piece. On Friday he wrote that the Internet felt naked without an apology from me. But it was Hunter who actually depicted himself as naked. He began a series of tweets criticizing my story and even corralled a group of male reporters who began calling themselves “PressDudesGoneWild.” Hunter changed his Twitter avatar, he told me, by searching for “sexy 80s men” and photoshopped his face onto Tom Selleck‘s body. Catchy, I thought. And funny.

Until Hunter’s journalistic tactics became not quite so funny.

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