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Archives: December 2012

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.

1. So, CNN has made its first bold move, luring Jake Tapper away from ABC. What’s your reaction? 

My reaction is “WOW!” I did not see that coming, but now that it’s happened it makes perfect sense. ABC could (and should) have done anything to keep Jake, he’s just about the only journalist universally praised and the only one I don’t put “journalist” in quotation marks when writing about. ABC could have kept him if they’d just done the smart thing in the first place and made him host of “This Week.” Considering how often George Stephanopoulos takes Sunday off, and the fact that he’s on the network five days per week already (how much Stephanopoulos could any network need?), not giving that gig to Tapper set in motion his exodus to CNN. Major pull for them.

2. Breitbart.com appears to have taking a major disliking to John Boehner as of late. What’s happening here? Translation? 

Breitbart seems to be a mess of late. Their rush to hire people who no one else is in a rush to hire is curious. That’s not to say they aren’t fine reporters, but they aren’t top-tier recruits who were much sought after. It would appear that having money dumped into your bank account causes impulse purchases at year’s end. On Boehner, the conservative media loves to be contrarian. They think they’re holding some sort of line but they end up shooting themselves in the foot (am I allowed to still make that analogy?) They’re writing for the choir, so it doesn’t matter very much. But it does matter. OK, it matters if credibility is your goal. If agenda and web traffic are your goals then they’re doing just fine.

3. Hypothetical: You are kidnapped by Syrians and forced into a solitary confinement type of prison cell by your captors. They give you three choices of the only entertainment you can have. 1. Endless DVD’s of Honey Boo-Boo episodes 2. Thousands of print copies of The Washington Post or 3. Never-ending supply of the Kathie Lee & Hoda show. Which do you choose?

I’m fairly certain this question is so torturous that it constitutes torture. The Washington Post is just awful, so that’s out. Kathie Lee & Hoda are one of the few things worse than the Post, so that’s out too. It would be like watching my mom and her best friend get drunk and no one needs that flashback! That leaves Honey Boo-Boo. Choosing Honey Boo-Boo makes the most sense because, as a prisoner, I’d want to keep in as much touch with real life as possible and, given these options, it’s the closest option to reality.

The FishbowlDC Interview: CNN’s KC Estenson Looks Into His Digital Crystal Ball

Subject: Ken “KC” Estenson

Job title: Senior VP and GM of CNN.com, responsible for all aspects of CNN.com’s business endeavors. Named to this position in September 2008, Estenson is based in CNN’s world headquarters in Atlanta and reports to Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services. Previously employed: The Walt Disney Company, where Estenson oversaw the digital media businesses Disney’s cable networks including Disney Channel Worldwide, SOAPnet and ABC Family. In 2007, Estenson received a Primetime Emmy® Award for Excellence in Interactive Television Programming for ABC Family’s Fallen Alternate Reality Game. Location of breakfast interview: Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Where he lives: Atlanta since 2008 Born: Portland, Ore. until age 3 Formative years: Sacramento, Calif. “It’s a cool little city. I look back with such jealousy and envy. So whatever, I can hike in the Sierra’s on a Tuesday afternoon, I would die to do that. People say Atlanta’s got great access to the outdoors. It really doesn’t. The thing about Atlanta is it’s got a real rebel soul to it, really good restaurants, they like to party, people are really nice and it’s a football crazy city. You get the four seasons (not the hotel), and that airport will get you anywhere in the world. It’s not an airport to love, it’s just an airport that gets you where it needs you to go.” Smarty-pants: B.A. in political science with honors from St. Mary’s College of California; the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also earned a master’s of education from Harvard University.

Thoughts on Facebook: No. Here’s my thing with Facebook. When I first came to CNN, I was heavily spammed by political extremists and so I severely curtailed my Facebook interaction. Before I came to CNN, I had donated money to a campaign, and as a matter of course at CNN, we don’t have formal affiliations. When I joined I had to write the campaign and ask for my money back to be clean and clear. They happily refunded by 50 dollars. I had friended the campaign and they put a badge on my page. So we get contacted all the time, from advocacy groups. They seem to think I have control over what CNN puts on its programs. I started getting emails and phone calls, and then on Facebook, 800 to 1000 friends. There’s so many people on there, you don’t know who’s in there. So I locked it up to be as private as I can. I use it only to calibrate Faceboook usage of other sites. No updates. Twitter habits: I do tweet. I use Twitter more than Facebook. So you were getting harassed. This was back in ‘09. So, yes. But I also feel like I get harassed when [CNN digital publicist] Matt Dornic texts me.

What’s your guilty TV watching pleasure? Game of Thrones, Homeland, Top Chef, Bravo real estate shows, I have two TVs in my office, they are on all the time. I absolutely love TV, but I consume it in a playlisted time-shifted way along with live sports and live news. I love the X Factor. I watch it with my kids. I watch The Voice. I like Christina Aguilera, she’s cute. And Adam. And Blake.

Washington, D.C.: “I actually really do like it here. I usually make a couple trips up here a year. Due to the nature of my work, I go to San Francisco a lot more with the technology as well as New York. I feel refreshed by the people I get to hang out with when I visit. Everyone here is really smart and really into our country, they’re plugged in, informed. You don’t get that broad based person in other cities. The people I hang out with in San Francisco do not watch television.” Hotel of choice: Four Seasons and the Ritz with Sports Club LA. Georgetown is my favorite part of D.C. I like it’s history, character, shops, running on the canal.

Managing digital employees around the world: We place our digital people globally, in, for example, London, Hong Kong, and Dubai. I manage 250-300 employees, so I travel a ton. Sadly, Washington is not a city I get to as much as I like, but CNN obviously has a big presence here. List your gadgets: iphone5, ipad, Samsung Galaxy 3s, Macbook Air. I do not use a PC in any shape or form. I like to make sure CNN is working on all platforms. High end set of headphones.

How do you feel about CNN being compared to Fox News and MSNBC? I don’t look at them at all as competition to CNN digital. When you look at sum total of CNN, they are in different leagues. CNN far surpasses what Fox does, and certainly MSNBC as well. As far as political position, I like CNN’s stance. I think it’s respected for being non-partisan. Does it amaze you that Fox News earns such high ratings? No. All the more conservative people watch more television. Younger, better traveled, more integrated people are not watching television as much in primetime. Those people who are living interesting lives are out living those interesting lives. They’re out at a play or to a movie. I honestly think that is in some ways why The Daily Show and Colbert come on so late.

A look into your crystal ballRead more

CQ Roll Call Media Relations Manager Gets Boost

While some publications around town still have no designated spokesperson, CQ Roll Call is promoting its Manager of Media Relations.

The news outlet announced today that Sujata Mitra has been named Director of Marketing Communications, reporting to Valerie Voci, V.P., of Marketing.

See the abundance of praise for Mitra… Read more

A Little Birdy Tells Us…

That RealClearPolitics scribe Erin McPike has been spotted being escorted around CNN’s Washington bureau this afternoon. Might she be pursuing a job or being courted as the network continues its facelift? McPike appears frequently on MSNBC.

Stay tuned…

Correction: We mistakenly identified McPike as working for TPM. We’ve corrected the above to reflect it.

On Pareene’s 2012 ‘Hack’ List: Oh, Everyone

“Who’s Pareene?” asked Michael Goldfarb of The Free Beacon. He tweeted the question yesterday linking to a Salon column that named The Drudge Report‘s Matt Drudge as 2012′s No. 5 biggest media “hack.”

Assuming it was a serious question from Goldfarb, Alex Pareene, whose mustache sometimes makes him look like a porn star, is a writer at Salon and the news world’s favorite ginger. Each year he names his personal 10 “hacks” in news media that are “hurting America.” While the not-that-much-anticipated list is harmless, it causes a buzz for directly and brazenly (or, as brazenly as can be done sitting at a keyboard) calling out big names in news.

Over the last two days, the list trickled out full of the kind of angst generally reserved for misunderstood teenagers in high school courtyards. In the end, we couldn’t help but think that in a few places, Pareene colored outside the lines.

No. 1 on the list is Politico, which Pareene said is founded on “a myth” that its reporting is “exclusive” when in fact it’s the same old Beltway journalism.

He specifically named Executive Editor Jim VandeHei and White House Correspondent Mike Allen as the driving forces behind Politico‘s hackery. Of Allen, who writes the widely-read Playbook tip sheet, Pareene said he is “paid a fortune” for emailing out “a bunch of links to day-old news stories.” It’s a business model Pareene has apparently mastered so well, it’s a wonder he’s not making his own fortune copying it. Or, maybe he’s pissed he didn’t think of it first?

Pareene dismissed all of Politico‘s election coverage. “No one reading any of these pieces … gained any genuine insight into the state of the presidential race,” he said. And yet, even after the election, Politico maintains high web traffic (though on election night, traffic climbed to 2.2 million page views an hour) which brings in money and allows the publication to expand.

In case Pareene wasn’t aware, it turns out there’s an audience for people who want to read about politics– in fact, every teeny tiny detail on the subject. Pareene doesn’t understand it. He’s kind of like a gorilla frustrated that he can’t make the star-shaped block go through the square-shaped hole.

It’s the audience he should hate. They’re reading Politico. Even if he doesn’t see why they should.

Moving on to No. 2 on the list… Read more

One Woman: Two Different Noses?

On Thursday night CNN’s Christiane Amanpour appeared on “Piers Morgan Tonight” for a special live discussion on Guns in America. We couldn’t help but notice how slim Amanpour’s nose looked and how she, at least in this picture, resembles Kris Jenner. Was it the magic of modern makeup or something more surgical?

Ask Ms. Politico: Always Err On Side of Caution

Today we continue our advice column we’re calling “Ask Ms. Politico.” It concerns an 11-page Politico Ethics Manual we recently got our hands on, from which there is an abundance of wisdom to share. So we ask Ms. Politico a question and she answers us straight from the manual. We’ll run this feature as long as it takes to impart the wisdom. Enjoy!

Q: Hi there Ms. Politico! My question involves Social Media. For starters, will my Social Media crap be reviewed by my supervisors? How careful do I need to be? Also, can I call up an organization and misrepresent myself? As in, say, call up The Daily Caller and pretend that I potentially want to purchase an ad?

See what Ms. Politico has to say…

Read more

Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day

Is it BuzzFeed or is it HuffPost Hill

HuffPost Hill does its best impersonation of BuzzFeed with this email subject line: “HUFFPOST HILL – 25 Photos Of John Boehner Trying To Keep His Conference Together... And Kittens” (The afternoon newsletter has neither inside, so it’s all just a spiteful tease.)

On the Serenity Prayer…

“I hear that serenity prayer was said with typical Boehner grumble. Slight smile. He’s a devout Roman Catholic. Dark sense of humor.” — NationalReviewOnline‘s Washington Editor Robert Costa.

Uh oh. 

“On my way home via @Uber_DC. Am so grateful a service like this exists – would pay anything for the independent reviews and safety.” — Anna Sproul-Latimer, a Washington-D.C.-based literary agent. Clearly Anna hasn’t heard the news.

A complaint about flack emails

“Flack emails I will not read begin with ‘Hey XXX…’” — Daniel Newhauser, House leadership reporter for Roll Call.

NBC’s Chuck Todd gets questionable haircut?

“Did @chucktodd tell his barber ‘give me the Moe Howard‘?” — AP‘s Jon Resnick. Resnick’s joke involved Todd’s hair on Thursday, but it’s got legs. Could also refer to substitute hosts for “The Daily Rundown.” Today it’s WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza. We’ve asked Resnick for clarification on the matter.

The Observer

“Emerging buzzphrase of Dem Senate presser: ‘political gyrations’” — Slate‘s Dave Weigel.

How to Make it All About Me: “As someone who’s worked in digital journalism for a while, this NYT effort on an avalanche is inspirational.” — WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza. We’re not sure why he felt the need to qualify his statement. We get it! You’re an expert!

In defense of journalists covering tough stories

“Many people express hate for journalists covering tragic stories in their neighborhoods. Honestly, we hate being there, too.” — WTOP’s Neal Augenstein.

Fox News producer needs parka for hearing room

“Senate Foreign Relations hearing room is ridiculously cold. So glad I brought my big North Face parka.” — FNC Senate producer Kara Rowland.

Reaction to Pareene’s Hack List

“Good God, what will Alex be like when he gets old? His list is gripping reading, though, exactly the way Fox News itself is.” –The Daily Beast and CNN Contributor David Frum on Alex Pareene‘s annual Hack List for Salon.com.

Uh oh.

“As of now I have bought zero Christmas presents. Talk about smelling the panic.” — Touré, co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle”.

Editor regrets eating all that junk food; and see who made this week’s FishbowlDC Fan Club Board… Read more

ABC’s Jake Tapper to CNN

Phase one of major changes at CNN has begun. ABC Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper is leaving the network for CNN. He will anchor a weekday program, likely in the afternoon according to our sister site, TVNewser.

See the full announcement from CNN… Read more

A Little Birdy Tells Us…

That Taegan Goddard, a blogger who writes Political Wire, has an announcement coming in the new year as his four-year contract with CQ Roll Call expires. Sources tells us that Goddard and CQ Roll Call are in the process of breaking up. When asked about it, Goddard replied, “My four year agreement with CQ Roll Call expires early next year. I’ll have something to announce soon and will be sure you’ll be among the first to know.” When pressed, he added, “It’s been a pleasure to work with them [CQ Roll Call]. I have some exciting ventures planned for next year but nothing I’m able to announce yet.” Earlier in the year, we reported that Goddard was hoping to secure a new deal with either Politico or National Journal. At the moment, there are no signs that he’s headed for Politico.

We’ve requested a comment from CQ Roll Call. UPDATE: Sujata Mitra, Spokesperson for CQ Roll Call,  wrote back to say, “No comment at this time.”

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