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Archives: July 2012

The FishbowlDC Interview With ABC7′s Van Cleave

Kris Van Cleave may be the first person to ever send his responses to our lengthy FBDC Interview off a smartphone. We noticed the “Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone” signature on his email and thought 1. Who answers this many questions on a phone?!” 2. Who has a 4GLTE?! He told us he didn’t actually answer all of the questions on his phone, but said his responses “may benefit from a spell check.”

Van Cleave is going on six years as a general assignment reporter for ABC7/WJLA. He has received multiple awards over the span of his journalism career, including a Regional Edward R. Murrow Team Coverage Award for reporting on the the 2009 Metro collision.

Before coming to D.C., Van Cleave was a reporter in San Diego and Colorado Springs. As for his personal life, he kept it brief: “Not married, no kids.” He didn’t always want to work in TV news. “I thought maybe I could be a sports announcer,” he said, “but the desire to eat overwhelmed that.” His family moved to LA before high school and an anchor, Ross Becker, took him under his wing and he remains a close friend and mentor to this day.

Van Cleave said watching the media cover the 1993 Southern California wildfires and the 1994 Northridge earthquake sold him on TV. His dream job: to be a network correspondent. But he says he has a “wonderful situation” at WJLA.

Let’s begin.

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be?

Diet Barq’s…plenty of bite, but fewer calories.

How often do you Google yourself?

Hourly. I also spend time each day looking for a unicorn.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

“Wow (boss who won’t be named), you’re the same age as my parents!”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Martha Raddatz—she’s one of my news heroes. Her reporting is fearless — she goes to some of the most dangerous places on earth time and again. Her coverage of U.S. troops abroad and here at home has been compelling, heartfelt, and powerful. Plus, she’s gracious and more than willing to help a younger reporter get better.

Do you have a favorite word?

Schweinefleisch! Hard to work into a sentence, but fun to say.

Who would you rather have dinner with – FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, NBC’s Brian Williams or ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Tell us why.

Diane. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her yet. Brian Williams would be a close second. When I was in college he let me shadow him for part of a day. I’ve always been grateful for that.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either CNN’s Candy Crowley or FNC’s Greta Van Susteren (significant others will understand). Who will it be?

How quickly are we dying out?

What swear word do you use most often?

The one that starts with F and its many variations.

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.)

Let’s make Sunday morning TV something to see…Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow. Perhaps we could have Pugil Sticks?

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be?

Either of my grandfathers. I never got meet them.

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Ask Piranhamous Anything

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another installment of: “Ask Piranhamous Anything.” And we do mean anything. Send your queries to 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.

1. What the hell do you make of author and former TWTer Rich Miniter and Daily Caller Executive Editor David Martosko going to Morocco together?

On the week when The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful is announced you often forget about their lesser known list of 50 Most Bob’s Big Boy Look-A-Likes, so that’s for bringing up this year’s winner and runner-up. To be completely honest, much like a solid BM, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about these guys after I flush. They can have each other…no one else wants them.

2. What’s your take on journalists injecting themselves into their stories or making themselves the stories as is the case of CNN’s Anderson Cooper coming out of the closet or Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher revealing that he has autistic children?

Cooper being gay was about the worst kept secret in Washington, everyone knew it and no one really gave a damn. Much less well known is the story of Tommy Christopher. Not about his children, but who he is. Never before has someone gone by so many names who wasn’t in the witness protection program, and still no one knows who he is.

3. What’s your reaction to Norah O’Donnell moving to the CBS Morning show with Gayle King? Should Oprah be jealous?

Oprah should be jealous of no one. But given the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson situation, she might want to keep an eye on Stedman.

Why Washington D.C. Gossip Sucks

Timeliness isn’t everything in journalism, but when you’re the premier gossip column of Washington, WaPo‘s “The Reliable Source”, you’d think you might want to get things into the hopper on the day something broke.

But here we have it. “The Unreliable Source’s” lead item Thursday — all 516 words of it — was
all about … The Hill‘s lead item … Wednesday!

On a positive note, the gals languishing over at TUS managed to get some interesting details on couples that have emerged from The Hill‘s 50 Most Beautiful.

An excerpt:

Not surprisingly: “You do realize people date off this list, right?” a finalist told Hill staff at one of the photo shoots. In fact, there are at least three known couples from “Most Beautiful” lists over the years. Hanz Heinrichs (2005) wed Rebeccah Ramey (2007),Carling Dinkler (2004) andAyame Nagatani (2005), and this year’s Erik Olson is engaged toJess Smith (2007). The pair will tie the knot in November.


McClatchy Bureau Chief Reveals Dirty Secrets

Earlier in the week James Asher, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau Chief made an unexpected declaration at an award’s ceremony that the news service will not tolerate any quote sanitizing by government officials. On Thursday in a summation called “On Washington Journalism” Asher commented on the practice further, calling out WaPo and NYT for not yet taking firm stands on the matter.

But Asher says this isn’t the only dirty secret of Washington journalism.

An excerpt:

During the height of the U.S. Attorney’s scandal in 2006 when McClatchy was breaking nearly all of the damning stories that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, an official from the Justice Department promised us an exclusive leak of government information. After he provided the details, he went on to tell our reporter: “Highlight this. Disregard this and emphasize that.” When our reporter refused, he said: “You are the most unprofessional journalist I have ever worked with.” That exchange says leagues about the relationship between sources and the news media.

Asher made another commitment to readers: “Reporters at McClatchy’s Washington Bureau are getting new marching orders. We’ll be reducing the number of stories we do about the ranting in Congress and the spin at the White House. We will devote our considerable skills as journalists to the actions of governments. We’ll tell you what Washington does and how it affects your lives.”

Politico’s VandeHei To Address Hospital Assoc.

What do Intellimedicine’s Daniel Kraft, Politico‘s Jim VandeHei and “Dancing With the Stars” alum J.R. Martinez have in common? Really, nothing. They’re all human males. But come August they’ll be drawn together at an annual Minnesota Hospital Assoc. meeting at Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake in Brainerd (no joke), Minnesota.

The resort offers the following goodies: trapshooting, a spa, golf, tennis & croquet, a 15-person hot tub, lawnbowling, shuffleboard, trampolines, tubing, water skiing and more.

The hospital website says Kraft will “examine rapidly emerging, game changing and convergent technology trends and how they are and will be leveraged to change the face of health care and the practice of medicine in the next decade.” Translation: Who the f knows?

The site describes Politico as “the highly influential political and news website Washingtonian Magazine recently hailed as a ‘media phenomenon.’” VandeHei will discuss the elections: “With a close-up view of what really happens in Washington, he will bring us a frontline journalist’s insight and insider knowledge, covering the upcoming election.”

Martinez will share his story of “resilience and optimism.” Apart from DWTS, as a U.S. Army soldier deployed in Iraq, his vehicle hit a landmine and he suffered severe burns to 40 percent of his body.



Breaking: CNN’s Jim Walton Resigns

CNN President Jim Walton, who has been with the company for 30 years, has announced that he’s resigning. He will remain with the network until the end of the year.

“CNN needs new thinking,” Walton wrote in a note to staff this morning. “I have interests to explore, I need to give myself time to do [them].”

See various quotes and his note after the jump…

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AnonymASSes of the Week

Has been quite an emotional week in the Fishbowl and we’ve had a stampede of AnonymASSes write in and it’s just too hard to choose one. So we narrowed it down to three.

1. “OMG, they fixed their lighting problem at Politico?? Please, tell me more about this fascinating development you unearthed whilst watching TV … Great stuff, guys. Really great stuff.” Dear Ass: If we have to explain the “show, don’t tell” concept of journalism to you, it’s just not worth it. Enjoy the watermelon.

2. “OMG, it’s so hilariously awesome how you crazy clowns use your legendary wit and verve to mock and ridicule 23-year-old Hill staffers on The Hill’s Most Beautiful list!! Way to go! You Fishfarts are soooo much better than everyone else in DC – or anywhere, frankly! Thank God you have such a prestigious platform from which to remind everyone else of that undeniable fact! Keep up the AMAZING work, you insufferable, meaningless, tiny little douches!” Dear Ass: On this one, Peter remarked, “I wear the title of Fishfart proudly.” And Eddie: “Tiny? I expect insufferable and meaningless, but to call someone ‘tiny douche’ is kind of holding back.’”

3. “Just wanted to let you know that my whole office LOVES LOVES LOVES your cute, little blog. Every day we email around the most ridiculous, petty, bitchy, whiney, childish and meaningless drivel you post and it keeps us in hysterics all day. Seriously, I can’t believe some of the crap you guys put on Shitbowl DC, but I’m so grateful that you do it! Keep up the uh “good” work. You guys make our day!! xoxoxx” Dear Ass: xoxoxx right back at you. As we like to say during our morning Fishbowl meditation practice, our Shitbowl is your Shitbowl. Namaste.

Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day

Press Secretaries and other SPOX: You’ve been warned.

“Seriously people, this is comms 101. if i come to you asking to talk to you or your boss, ONE OF YOU is showing up in my story. Regardless.” — Buzzfeed Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton.

Headline irony alert: “What’s in a name? John Martini charged with DUI, hitting Ocean City officer with a car.” — ABC7. Read story here.

Blogger praises bank for catching ass

“To the ass that swiped my debit card number and went to Foot Locker, you can thank @WellsFargo for finding you so quickly. I sure am.” — Vintage blogger and social media consultant Lisa Rowan.

We hope you’re okay Neda!

“Today.. Today I received an email from January 1904, which leaves me with more questions about 1904 then I’ve ever had before.” — Roll Call HOH’s Neda Semnani, who has clearly been transported back in some sort of strange time capsule.

Journo laments obscenely costly beer

“Concessions are open and selling beer at #FreePAC. You know what’s not fiscally conservative? An $8.50 Bud Light.” — Politico‘s Dave Catanese.

Sighting: Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner at the newly remodeled Starbucks in Dupont Circle chatting away on his cell phone. The party on the other line seemed to be unfamiliar with Buzzfeed as Geidner had to repeatedly state the name of the publication and spell it out. (For next time,  we suggest these associations: B as in boy, u as in umbrella, z as in zesty, z as in zesty, f as in f%@k, e as in effervescent, e as in effervescent, d as in dingbat.)

Eddie Scarry contributed to this report.

More Biz-Side Layoffs at CQ Roll Call

The business side of CQ Roll Call continues shedding itself of baggage deemed unnecessary to their mission. This week alone, they’ve laid off five people, four of whom were on the marketing team. The two remaining on staff have been sent over to advertising. More change is on the way. Internal sources tell us the editorial department is not expected to be affected outside of a few people shifting positions. However, no one wants to make hard and fast promises on that front.

“Guess they learned their lesson from 2009 when they decided to bring everyone into a room and announce that a shitstorm of layoffs were coming,” a source highly familiar with internal happenings told us. “They’re just going to let this drip down like a leaky toilet.”

This afternoon Executive VP Keith White released a memo to staff explaining in generalized terms the intricacies of what is happening. The gist of the extremely wonkalicious memo that could send you into a coma: They’re eliminating certain business positions to free up financing for other priorities.

See the memo…We’ve highlighted lines that you need to read in between. In the next two weeks, says White, there will be “additional change” (i.e. layoffs).

Is Michelle Fields Ready For Primetime?

Things are going great for The Daily Caller’s Michelle Fields these days. At least that’s what she says.

Fields has been logging some SERIOUS time on Fox News recently. It’s enough to make you wonder if she’s angling for a contributor gig. We aren’t the only ones who wondered that. When a Fields Fan tweeted her recently about the idea of getting an agent, she doesn’t deny it.

Fields continued to gush about herself on Facebook, saying, “I’m so happy. Today was the best! I love you guys! All these doors keep opening for me because I have you all by my side unlocking them for me with you support & love. Ah, thank you! I won’t disappoint you!” You’d think that she had just won an Academy Award going on like that. I was expecting her to end that thought with “You like me! You really, really like me!”

The fact is, Fields would be a good fit at Fox News for all the obvious reasons. So, go ahead and hire that agent. But, don’t be surprised when he or she tells you to lose those glasses.