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Archives: March 2012

FishbowlDC Interview with Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis

Say hello to The Daily Caller‘s Matt Lewis. He is a senior contributor for The Daily Caller. He is also editor of ‘The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin In Her Own Words.’ More often than not, you can find the unquestionably friendly reporter with dimples on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Howard Kurtz on Sunday. His colleagues find him “helpful and knowledgeable” around the office. We asked his boss, Tucker Carlson, what kind of human being Lewis is. He replied, “Matt is a great guy: low-key, hard working, relentless honest and decent.” Previously, Matt was a columnist for the now defunct Politics Daily, and before that, he was a blogger for Townhall.com. Matt grew up in Frederick County, Md., and graduated from Shepherd College (now University) in Shepherdstown, WV. Like any blogger, he can fall prey to the occasional bad mood. “If you’re a blogger, your mood is contingent on whether you have written anything good lately,” he tells me in a phone conversation this afternoon. “If too much time elapses and I haven’t written anything I’m proud of, I start to get a little testy, which is totally not good.” He does see his glass half full: “Any day as a writer beats working at a fast food restaurant.” This is a fate he escaped narrowly just after college when he worked briefly at a Roy Rogers in Frederick, Md. He was earning $30,000 a year in  management program. “I was utterly miserable doing it,” he said. “I ended up quitting. I’ve come to learn, whether it s a relationship or a job, you usually know within the first day whether or not it’s going to work. It took me a couple of months to figure it out, but I finally did pull the plug on that.” Moving on to other topics, I wondered about Lewis’s thoughts on the hoodie. “I actually like hoodies and I wear them all the time,” he said. “I was going to tape an episode of bloggingheads the other night. I literally had to take off a hoodie and put on another shirt because I was afraid people were going to think I was mocking it. They’re very comfortable. It’s a brilliant invention.” Lewis wasn’t always a reporter. He started off doing campaigns. He initially thought his calling was to be a political operative. In 1998 he managed a campaign for a male candidate running for the Maryland State Senate. He became the youngest and the first Hispanic Republican ever elected to the Maryland State Senate. “That’s the part I love, the passion, the romance of being a kind of revolution and beating the machine,” he said. But the more entrenched he got into politics, he began to see that at the professional level “they suck the excitement out of it. You know the type…the douchebag type,” he said, explaining that he started his own blog in 2004 and began writing for Human Events. His first paying writing job was for Townhall.com, where he worked for two years. “It took me an evolution to find myself and find my calling.”

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be? Too personal. Next question.

How often do you Google yourself? I Googled myself twice while answering these questions. But this is because I am paranoid and needy – not because I’m narcissistic – there’s a difference.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? I’ve found it’s best not to directly confront editors. Instead, it’s best to sneak into their offices and move things around on their desks until they slowly go insane.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Kirsten Powers has been doing terrific work of late. Her columns on important issues like sex trafficking and liberal hypocrisy regarding misogyny have been both eloquent and heroic.

Do you have a favorite word? Milieu.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Salon’s Joan Walsh, WaPo’s Ezra Klein or Maureen Dowd. Tell us why. Maureen Dowd. She can be funny. She has a flirty quality about her that’s utterly likeable. And I’m willing to bet that, off the clock at least, she’s capable of dropping the partisan BS for an evening. (Call me, MoDo!)

What’s your funniest TV blooper moment? Fortunately, most of my bloopers have occurred off camera. But I once narrowly averted appearing on NBC’s “Today” show as a medical expert (when an intern escorted me from the MSNBC green room to the wrong set).

What swear word do you use most often? Without a doubt, the f-bomb. But now that I have a little boy, my wife is trying to break me of that f-ing habit.

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside? I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect.

When you pig out what do you eat? Dark chocolate.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. Two words: Sweater vest. Or else… I do have a pair of cowboy boots I got in Austin that I’m pretty proud of. (Pictured here.)

Pick one: Kim, Khloe, or Kourtney? Kourtney.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? Never.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? I’ve had several close calls: There was the time I caught a gas can on fire. There was the other time when I was riding my lawn mower up a steep hill (with the blade engaged) and it popped a wheelie. And there was the time the lifeguards had to pull me out of the water at Ocean City, Md.

Find out Lewis’s relation to the always suave “Uncle Rico” after the jump…

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Separated at Birth: BuzzFeed’s Coppins

In today’s edition of Separated at Birth we compare BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins and the similarly spectacled author of In Cold Blood, Truman Capote.

Ask Piranhamous Anything

Here is this week’s installment of “Ask Piranhamous Anything.”  If you have a question you’d like “snarked to death,” send it to FishbowlDC@mediabistro.com. This isn’t an advice column. Piranhamous doesn’t know what the hell you should do with your life any more than you do — and worse, he doesn’t care. Try to keep your questions short — we want to keep this fun, simple, funny and insightful.

Note from P: I’m a cynical sonofabitch most of the time, but today I’m on 11. You have been warned.

What do you think of the new hoodie craze, particularly media personalities like Bill Press and Roland Martin and Rep. Bobby Rush donning hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin? Is it bordering on stupid yet?

Most of America is wondering who those people are. We now have media personalities who created a new race, “white Hispanic,” in order to make George Zimmerman white so they could milk this tragedy. Bill Press is now on Current TV with the likes of star buffoon Keith Olbermann. Roland Martin (no relation to Trayvon, unfortunately) is the guy suspended for making the gays angry over a stupid tweet.  And Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has a long, storied career as a worthless backbench politician most people have never heard of. That media personalities try to glom onto the media frenzy around the death of Trayvon Martin with hoodies is not surprising. Is it bordering on stupid? It’s so far past the border of stupid that it’s naturalized, married and had kids already. Some members of the media speak of the events of that night with such clarity that you’d think they were there. They weren’t, they don’t know anything more than anyone else, but admitting you don’t know and saying we should wait for the investigation before jumping to conclusions doesn’t make for good ratings. As for Rush, he’ll get a fundraising email out of it, then settle comfortably back into obscurity.

Why do some journos refuse to talk to FishbowlDC?

Most “journalists” live in a world there they aren’t questioned. Their motives, their sloppiness, their laziness go out as gospel and even their mistakes are swept under the rug like that last dust-bunny you found after you put the dustpan away. Why would they ever expose themselves to the type of exposure they demand of others? Their giant egos (and they are huge) don’t allow for questioning of them, because not only are they huge, they’re fragile. Most of these people aren’t bright, they’re quite dumb. They live in a world where their stupidity is hidden, protected from exposure by producers who write the bright words on teleprompters or editors who clean up the written vomit they submit. If people were exposed to their unfiltered idiocy, if the public were to realize they make William Hurt’s character in “Broadcast News” look like Einstein, or CNN Wolf Blitzer’s “Jeopardy!” performance seem like a good day, they’d be finished. They can’t risk that.

Who, other than Mitt Romney, needs a car elevator?

Off the top of my head – Michael Moore. But that’s just to get in and out of bed. And to lift his wallet. Or lunch to the table. Perhaps that is too mean, but I don’t care. And who cares who needs a car elevator? A better question would be who wouldn’t aspire to need one? Mitt made his money, shouldn’t you aspire to as well? You can sit around and complain about what other people have that you don’t, but don’t expect me to care. We used to look at people who achieved success and aspire to be like them. Now too many people look at them and demand the government take some of their stuff and “spread it around.” Screw you, buddy. Earn your own shit and stop worrying about what someone else earned.

WaPo Book Blog Goes Black

Steve Levingston penned a goodbye to his job as head of WaPo‘s “Political Bookworm” blog. The blog saw its final post yesterday. It’s safe to conclude that the early bird has eaten the worm. But Levingston offered readers zero explanation as to why the publication decided to abandon the blog.

“It’s time for Political Bookworm to close its doors,” Levingston wrote. “The range of books we’ve covered has spanned a wide spectrum: from tiny houses to major trade publishers to renowned university presses. We’ve had heated exchanges and thoughtful conversations — the signs of vibrant democratic life.”

WaPo‘s book coverage has waned in recent years. In January 2009, they shuttered the stand-alone Book World section and moved reviews to two pages within other sections.

Levingston isn’t leaving WaPo. He wrote that now he’ll be “writing for the Post in print and online” and editing nonfiction reviews for the publication.

FBDC asked Levingston the same question as a sole commenter on the blog’s final post: “Why?” Levingston never replied. We’ll update if he has anything to say.

Name Dropping Heaven: Sandra Fluke at MSNBC With Chris Matthews When Obama Called

When you’re the President of the United States, most anyone can be found if the need arises. This morning on Current TV’s “Full Court Press” with Bill Press, we learned where President Obama found Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student (a.k.a. “slut” in Rush Limbaugh‘s estimation), when he wanted to speak with her by phone. As luck would have it, Fluke said it was kind of a funny story…

“I was actually at MSNBC about to go on air into a studio,” she said. “I had to rip off my earpiece and find an office for a quiet moment. So, I commandeered Chris Matthews office, which he was kind enough to not kick me out of.”

Pew Research Prez to Step Down

Andy Kohut will step down as President of the Pew Research Center. He issued this letter to his colleagues. He claims he won’t really be leaving, but like many Washingtonians, he’ll take on a more “advisory” role. He writes, “I will not be exiting the scene and plan to continue with the work that has always been my great joy. In the future I will focus my efforts on public opinion commentaries and analyses, and also serve as an adviser on domestic and international opinion research practices.”

Dear Pew Research Center Colleagues,

I have some important news to share. I will be stepping down as president of the Pew Research Center at the end of this year, though I intend to remain actively engaged in the important work we do at the Center. Our research makes an important contribution to understanding the American public; what it thinks, what it knows and how it behaves in the many realms in which we operate.  I have loved leading those efforts since The Pew Charitable Trusts decided to place a bet on us in 1996 by funding the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the first “information initiative” that led to the creation of the current Pew Research Center.

Since 2004, the Pew Research Center has grown from a set of small, disparate projects to a combined organization of 130 people, with an expanding portfolio of domestic and international survey research, a growing footprint in demographic analysis and – importantly in this digital age – a greater variety of ways to tell our data-driven stories. I will not be exiting the scene and plan to continue with the work that has always been my great joy. In the future I will focus my efforts on public opinion commentaries and analyses, and also serve as an adviser on domestic and international opinion research practices. At its meeting earlier this month The Pew Charitable Trusts board endorsed our ambitious plans to expand our international research portfolio and I expect to have an ongoing role in making that happen.

I am confident we will have a smooth transition at the Pew Research Center. Don Kimelman, Rebecca Rimel, the Pew Research Center and Pew Charitable Trusts boards, and senior leaders here at the Center have been aware of my plans for some time. Don and the Pew Research Center board, in close consultation with Rebecca, will lead the search for my successor, whom I will assist in his or her transition.

Above all, I want you to know that we are committed to ensuring that the Pew Research Center continues to have a strong future as an independent, trusted source of facts and neutral analysis. I could not be more proud of the great contribution that all of you and the Pew Research Center as a whole have made in helping the press, the public and policymakers understand the trends shaping America and the world. And I look forward to even bigger and better things to come.

Best,
Andy

C-SPAN Gives Sen. Saxby Chambliss a Tongue-Lashing

The normally mild-manner C-SPAN just has one thing to say to the idiotic GOP Senator from Georgia, Saxby Chambliss, who is whining that C-SPAN is at the root of the deeply divided Senate: Check out your 599 C-SPAN appearances. A quick piece of advice: Maybe an intern can count up your C-SPAN appearances before you decide to blast them next time, Senator? In response to Chambliss’s statements on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and a subsequent story that appeared in Politico, C-SPAN tweeted the following zinger:

Despite the childish slap from Chambliss, C-SPAN Spokesman Howard Mortman said “of course” the senator will be invited back on again. But not without a little ribbing from former C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb, who told Politico‘s Tim Mak, “It’s like blaming the Bureau of Printing and Engraving for our $15 trillion debt.” Contrary to Politico‘s report, Lamb is now a top executive on the C-SPAN Board. He officially steps down as CEO today and begins his new role on April 1.

Author Anne Tyler Breaks Her Silence

The unexpected news: Today, NPR News airs an exclusive broadcast interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Tyler. The famously private writer of such novels as Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourist gives arts correspondent Lynn Neary a rare face-to-face opportunity to talk about her craft and career. The conversation airs on Morning Edition and is also available online at npr.org, along with an exclusive excerpt from Tyler’s latest novel, The Beginner’s Goodbye, and a visual tour of Baltimore locations featured in her books.

A week ahead of the release of her 20th novel, Tyler walks around her neighborhood while discussing her life, writing and adopted hometown of Baltimore where most of her novels are set. Tyler gives Neary insight into why she often lets her books speak for themselves and typically avoids book publicity tours, saying, “I did do one [interview] about 35 years ago and I don’t have that much to say. So I figure every 35 years will do; it is just about right. It does make me very self conscious when I go back to writing after I talk about writing.”

Tyler says her characters are a product of her imagination and that she falls in love with all of them, saying: “When I finish a book, I send the book to New York to be read by my agent. So, I just seem to picture them on a train and my heart is broken. I mean I’m thinking of how they’re often sort of limited people or shy people. They’re just so brave to be going up there on their own. It’s really anthropomorphic. But then, after they get accepted, so to speak, and they’re a book on their own, I’m like a mother cat with kittens. I never think about them again. They’re gone.”

Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day

Blind email

Among my personal favorite anonymous emails of the week: “Newt Gingrich spoke at Georgetown University today and got a little feisty with a student who questioned his suggestion that poor students work as janitors in their schools. Jim Acosta and an angry and abnormally flushed Dave Weigel were there.” Acosta works for CNN; Weigel is a reporter for Slate. We reached out to Weigel to ask about his emotional/physical state that evening. He replied, “I have no idea where ‘angry’ comes from, but I was rather normally flushed.” Correction: Our tipster wrote back. Kevin Madden wasn’t there. It was CNN’s Jim Acosta. We’ve changed the above to reflect the error. The person wrote, “I apologize for the mistake! They look alike.”

Question to ponder

“So Rick Santorum gives a speech at the Jelly Belly factory but isn’t photographed w/ any jelly beans? What’s the point?” — Holly Bailey, political reporter for Yahoo! News.

Carvin copes with expense report — Libya style

“Nothing like doing expense reports for a Libya, where paper receipts are harder to find than Khamis Gaddafi.” — NPR’s Andy Carvin.

No ring on CNN’s John King

“I noticed on tonight’s show that John King is no longer wearing a wedding ring.” — Chicago book editor Beth Renaldi in a tweet to FBDC. It has been reported in recent weeks that CNN’s Dana Bash and King are separated. WaPo‘s “Reliable Source” and Politico broke the official news.

Retail reporter looks down on Potbelly

“This city should be embarrassed to have voted Potbelly 2nd best sandwich shop in @wcp Best Of.” — Fishbowl Fan Club Vice President Brando Warner, who is also a senior editor at Consumer’s CHECKBOOK Magazine.

Howie-May gets weird Jesus confessional out of Inofe

Howie-May Kurtz (a.ka. The Hill‘s gossip columnist Judy Kurtz) asked a smattering of senators about GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum‘s use of profanity with NYT‘s Jeff Zeleny. In a particularly weird response, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told her that he hadn’t cursed in 30 years. “Inhofe replied, ‘It has to do with Jesus.’ He then pointed to a youthful-looking congressional aide who was sitting nearby and asked, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ The aide nodded as the lawmaker darted off into his party’s policy lunch.” Read the whole story here.

TGIF for Schatz

“I know it’s cuz I have so much to look forward to this weekend, but this day.. and week is NEVER-ENDING! I’d better win the mega millions.”  — the uniquely named Becky Schatz, Guest Booker for CCTV-America (China Central Television).

A belated Happy Birthday to… Politico‘s Roger Simon.

 

 

Cubes: Take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of The Knot

In this episode of “Cubes,” we tour the offices of XO Group Inc., the media company best known for every bride-to-be’s favorite site, The Knot.

The XO Group’s brand-new space in lower Manhattan boasts a fashion runway, a bar with a kegerator, a giant projection screen for playing Xbox Kinect, and a staircase inspired by the ones found in Apple stores. Oh, and it has really good feng shui.

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