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Archives: June 2012

WH Correspondent Joe Williams to Leave Politico

Joseph Williams, the White House correspondent for Politico who was recently suspended for some questionable tweets and comments he made on television about Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, is leaving the publication.

The following is a memo sent through Politico‘s newsroom just after dawn from Editor-in-Chief John Harris:

“After some cordial discussions, Joe Williams and I mutually decided
that the best step for him is to begin a transition to the next phase
of his career. Joe is an experienced and respected journalist, with
keen insights into politics. After nearly 30 years in the business, he
has the authority and is ready to give voice to his insights and
conclusions in a new setting.

“He’ll be on leave of absence during this transition, and he’s got my
gratitude for the contributions he made here, both as reporter and
editor. I have told Joe—and it’s a sentiment others who worked closely
with him here share—that he’ll have my support as he prepares for what
I expect will be a good and prominent next chapter in his career.


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Washingtonian’s Garrett Graff Can’t Google

Washingtonian‘s intrepid Editor Garrett Graff is all giddy about a new lengthy feature in his magazine. It’s as though he thinks he invented sliced bread.

The new story by Ariel Sabar concerns Jon Wojnowksi, that dedicated white-haired man drivers in Northwest Washington see holding vigil outside the National Cathedral flipping pedophilia signs.

The problem is: Everyone’s written about this guy. WaPo’s Eleanor Goldberg wrote nearly the same story two years ago. See here.

Both stories are undoubtedly well-written, poignant and touching. The main difference between them: two years.

Congratulations on inventing bread, Graff!


Congress Plays Hardball

The annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game was held Thursday night in a tradition that pits Democratic members of Congress against their Republican colleagues. Everyone is committed to raising money for charity in a show of bipartisanship. The touchy-feely event was held at Nationals Park, where we usually see athletes in peak form showcasing years of conditioning so that we can see what greatness can be achieved with hard work and dedication. The Congressional game is filled with bloated, elderly men hobbling around the bases like turtles on quaaludes. So, it’s a little different.

Before the game got underway, we got to mingle with these “athletes.” They were all wearing detailed uniforms from their home state or district, which added a touch of surreality to the whole event. Sort of like “Field of Dreams” on acid. The member with the most fanfare was Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). He was being inducted into the game’s Hall of Fame that evening. Paul tells FBDC that he wished he could be out there playing, but guaranteed that the Republicans “will be a LOT better than they were last time.” Last year, Democrats demolished the GOP by a score of 8-2, so it couldn’t get much worse than that. Or could it?

This year was a bloodbath. After a slow first inning, the Dems unleashed a brutalizing second inning and scored 11 runs. IN A SINGLE INNING. One ballpark attendant remarked that they should implement a slaughter rule. Democratic fans added insult to injury by chanting “Ju-stice Ro-berts” at Republican batters. I’m guessing that the GOP’s wounds of Chief Justice John Roberts‘ vote that saved Health Care legislation hadn’t fully healed from earlier in the day.

Highlights included Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) nearly jacking a home run, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) doing a great Chris Sabo impression with his sport glasses, and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), the lone female, wearing her jersey with Roman numeral IX to commemorate Title IX. It was touching to see Ron Paul throw the first pitch to his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-TX).

Spectators donned blue foam fingers to cheer on the Democrats and red foam fingers to cheer for the Republicans and then sat behind their teams dugout, so it wasn’t entirely bipartisan. We noticed that the lines for food on the Republican side were much longer than the ones on the Dem side. We spotted more chili cheese fries from Ben’s Chili Bowl than any other food item in the ballpark. We watched as one Congressional staffer attempted to buy “8 Coors Lights” for his group of friends. He was denied the booze purchase.

While Republicans eventually scored a few runs, it would have been nearly impossible to overcome the dramatic 2nd inning and the Democrats cruised to an easy victory, 18-5.

Of course, this is Washington. So there was very little celebrating the win of the actual baseball game. The only joy we heard emanated from Democrats still basking in the SCOTUS ruling on healthcare hours earlier.

FishbowlDC Interview With Mojo’s Adam Weinstein

Say hello to Mother Jones‘ National Security Correspondent Adam Weinstein, who has been splitting his time between Washington, San Francisco and Tallahassee. Next month he’ll grace Washington full-time as the mag’s new Community Engagement Editor and will continue on as their National Security Correspondent and Tumblr-starter. He was previously their copy editor. Before that, he worked at the WSJ, the Village Voice, and the Tallahassee Democrat. He’s written for the NYT, New York Magazine, GQ, and Newsweek.

He has many life titles: Navy veteran, two-day Jeopardy champion and ex-political scientist. He also did a recession-fueled stint as a military contractor in Iraq. He holds an MS in Journalism from Columbia and an MA in international affairs from Florida State. Weinstein says he’s looking forward to “getting down with” the other social media folks in Washington.

Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, he says he tried his hardest to be a beach bum. “There was lots of drinking on the beach and cutting class,” he recalled. In high school he interned at the Sun Sentinel, where he says he caught the Hemingway bug and figured journalism was something he’d always end up doing. He was a copy editor at the Tallahassee Democrat and the WSJ until Rupert Murdoch laid him off. He has funny copy editing memories: “Everybody has that moment where the front page comes out and you have a 72-point headline that reads ‘Headline Goes Here.’” He says he wasn’t a very good copy editor.

Weinstein says one of the problems journalists have is remembering that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  “We all just have a tendency to assume that what we work on everyday and what comprises our world is what comprises everybody’s elses,” he says. “The best journalists are ones that can step out of that bubble and be aware of other people’s worlds.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Diet Mountain Dew. Not very classy, but irresistible, slightly Southern, and sure to make you sick in massive quantities.

How often do you Google yourself? Enough to grow hair on my iPad.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? I once told a restaurant manager I’d rather take a high colonic with a rusty chainsaw than work another minute for him. Two years later, I was writing for the Village Voice. The restaurant was out of business.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I can’t narrow it down. Dave Weigel is the nicest guy in the business. Mike Hastings is the most entertaining. C.J Chivers is a personal hero. I have an intellectual crush on Virginia Heffernan. But overall, right now I’d kill a man with my bare hands just to keep reading John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Do you have a favorite word? My wife and I giggle every time we say the word “backpack”, for some not-at-all-drug-related reason. When not in mixed company, I like “fuckstick.”

Who would you rather have dinner with – MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric or ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Tell us why. Maddow, because I like to talk to PhDs. There ought to be more doctors and masters of non-journalistic shit working in journalism.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Helen Thomas or Joan Rivers. Who will it be? (Neither is not an option and yes, it’s possible. We’re in your imagination right now.) Joan Rivers, because I like her dirty talk.

What swear word do you use most often? “What the shit?!” I’m an ex-copy editor, so a lot of years in there, I spoke mainly in cusses. We’re the engine mechanics of the news biz.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) Skip Bayless, Woody Paige, Dana Loesch, Jonah Goldberg, and three dull machetes in the center of the table.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? I was raised in part by a lovely woman, April Rubin Bloom, an erudite, gentle union crusader who was like a third grandmother to me – Molly Ivins meets Atticus Finch. I was working on the wrong coast when she died, and we never got to share in each other’s excitement over my job at MoJo, one of her favorite magazines. Plus, she was the most talented cook ever to organize a NOW picket line for equal pay.

Does David Corn have a bad temper? No! He’s just a badass ex-hippie with great guitar licks and a sophomoric sense of humor.

Weinstein says Washington’s Boybanders “poop brown poop just like the rest of us” …

Read more

WaPo‘s Rubin Under Fire

The Nation‘s Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?, has taken a blowtorch to WaPo‘s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. In an article published Wednesday meant to criticize WaPo as a paper lacking integrity, Alterman hones in on Rubin, who he calls an “attack dog” and accuses her of…a lot of things. None of them positive.

Here’s a dog-bites-man story if there ever was one. Alterman, who once blogged for Media Matters for America, takes issue with a conservative writer with a prominent platform.

First Alterman criticizes some of Rubin’s pre-WaPo work that caused a stir, including a piece she wrote for Commentary Magazine titled “Why Jews Hate Palin.” In the story Rubin wrote that “American Jews” firmly believe that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is “uncouth, unschooled, a hick, anti-science and anti-intellectual.”

“[Rubin] developed a specialty in venomous attacks on liberal American Jews” at Commentary, Alterman says (side note: Rubin herself is Jewish).

Other razor-sharp bits Alterman throws at Rubin:

  • “Barely a day goes by without a Rubin post filled with nasty name-calling attacks on a group or individual…”
  • “[Rubin is] a writer who cares nothing for the truth, but rather dedicates herself to spewing childish insults at the president of the United States as well as the millions of people who reject her ideological obsessions…”
  • “[W]hile the talk of Nazis and Obama’s alleged love for Islam have been tamed a bit, Rubin’s penchant for hate-filled fantasy has not.”

And so it goes, graph after hate-filled graph.

Predictably, Alterman speaks highly of WaPo‘s liberal blogger Greg Sargent, whom he hails as “a hard-working professional journalist who advances news stories regardless of whether they critique or flatter his own side.” (This part is somewhat inconsistent with Alterman’s criticism of Rubin, given that later in the story, he cites Rubin as tearing into former GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. He called Rubin’s writing on them “abusive invective.”)

Also predictably, Alterman has favorable things to say about other liberal writers such as Slate‘s Dave Weigel, whom Rubin replaced at WaPo after Weigel resigned in 2010 amid the “journolist” controversy.

Weigel told us he’s “a huge Rubin fan” and his sole criticism of her blog is that interviews she conducts aren’t transcribed in Q&A format. He said he didn’t believe her work at WaPo has hurt the paper’s reputation.

Back to Rubin. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a law degree. She worked as a labor lawyer for 20 years. She’s done countless TV hits, written for Politico, and has been featured by Washingtonian magazine. She has no fears about publicly going after her liberal colleagues like Sargent and Ezra Klein. Alterman identifies her as “a former Hollywood lawyer” who worked “briefly as an editor for the right-wing Pajamas Media and as a blogger for Commentary.”

Once you get past this and the 14 rabidly anti-Rubin graphs, Alterman redirects his venom back to WaPo at large. “It is true that the Washington Post has bigger problems than the serial inaccuracy and incivility of its right-wing blogger,” he writes. “But the question for the house that Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham built is not merely whether it will survive, but how.”

Though criticism of Rubin makes up the bulk of Alterman’s piece, he told us she’s not his “main concern with the paper. She’s just the one about which [he] chose to focus in this particular article.” As for his own nasty tone toward her, he said he had no personal reasons to attack her and even admitted that he has never met her. “This is my job and I try to do it as well as I can,” he said.

FBDC reached out to Rubin for comment.

Savannah Gets the Slot

Savannah Guthrie has officially been named co-anchor of NBC News’ “Today.” She replaces Ann Curry, who left in an awkwardly sad goodbye but will remain with the network with, in her words, a “fancy new title.” Word arrived today via NBC News President Steve Capus and is effective immediately. The new “Today” family will consist of Matt Lauer, Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales officially debuts Monday, July 9.

The memos… Read more

Journo Mangles King’s English Amid Impressive Feat

From the Dept. of Bragiculture…On Thursday amid the flurry of Supreme Court coverage looks like WaPo‘s Sarah Kliff got a little excited on Facebook about being cited in the Supreme Court opinion on the Affordable Care Act. Granted, this is amazing and we don’t want to take away from a genuinely impressive achievement. But…take a look.

“Take a breath babe, respect the king’s English,” a reader wrote in.

Later in the day, her post was deleted, never to be seen again. Her friends, however, continued on with their praise.


David Corn Chops GOP Hair on Capitol Hill

Granted, Mother Jones‘ Washington Bureau and MSNBC political analyst David Corn has such a thick head of hair that sometimes we like to refer to him as one of the Founding Fathers. When his silvery mane gets unruly he really can look like the spitting image of the late President Andrew Jackson. But yesterday he did something rather remarkable on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir program: He sneaked in a shot at Republicans on Capitol Hill who may not have such luxurious locks.

The topic: Fast and Furious. Yesterday the House found AG Eric Holder in contempt over a gun inquiry.

“Now they’re arguing over what the Justice Department response was to the congressional investigation, so it seems ever more peripheral,” Corn argued. “All these people who work on the Hill are pulling the little hair they have out of their heads over gun walking to Mexico. They don’t want to take a single productive step about solving or addressing that problem and that’s the real crime here.”

Pirrone Joins USA TODAY Sports as GM

USA TODAY‘s Sports Media Group announces the formation of Sports Digital Properties. Longtime digital industry exec Chris Pirrone has been named GM, overseeing operations.


Pirrone has over a decade of experience in the digital marketing space. He joins the USA TODAY Sports Media Group from Traffic Marketplace where he was Exec. VP and GM of Premium Display, Mobile and Video Digital Advertising.  Previously, he was CAO and General Counsel at Connexus Corporation and Assoc. General Counsel at ValueClick, Inc.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Pirrone earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and a J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law.

White House Soup of the Day

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

Roasted Vegetable.

“That’s a conservative soup today, that’s not a gloating soup,” remarked host Chuck Todd.