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Domenico Montanaro: The FishbowlDC Interview

Say hello to Domenico Montanaro from NBC News’ Political Unit. He reports, writes and edits for First Read, NBC’s political blog.

What does your morning reading list include? I do work on First Read… how much space do I get?

How many suits do you own? Of the ones that still fit after this election? Three, and those waists are struggling

What is the name of your cell phone ring? Honestly, with this new Blackberry, I can’t even figure how to change it. For this question, I just tried to check. Pathetic, I know. Luckily, my wife helps me with all the tech stuff.

How many emails do you receive a day? How many do you answer? During the campaign, it had to be 400 to 500 at least. It’s subsided a bit… I went back and counted yesterday’s and still in my inbox are 129– and those are just the ones that haven’t been deleted. I try to answer every single one that’s asking me something.

Where do you power-lunch? Have you BEEN to Tenleytown? It’s a 10-minute walk to anything.

What’s your favorite or go-to drink? There’s nothing quite like a really good Napa Cab (ZD) or a Russian River Pinot Noir. Tasty.

What section of the Sunday Washington Post do you read first? The A section. I comb the headlines (and can’t break away from the politics– sorry, I’m a junkie). Then I check out the Style feature.

If you ran a doctor’s office or a bank, what cable station would you have on in your waiting room or lobby? I really like my job, and the “Place for Politics” gives me lots to do. So, of course, MSNBC.

What kind of dog should the Obamas get and what should they name their new pet? Ah, the dog. I like labs, and my wife really wants one of those grey weimaraners.

Who would you most enjoy seeing parodied on SNL? There are so many characters out there… They’ve already done Blago and Biden. Traveling Hill and Bill would give more good mileage… The Virginia governor’s race could be a bad 12:45 skit.

Leno or Letterman? Stewart or Colbert? I’m a New York guy. I lean toward Letterman, but I love “headlines.” Stewart is DVR’ed.

Taking a cue from The Chris Matthews Show here, tell us something we don’t know… I used to be able to dunk (emphasis on “used to.” I might be able to dunk a tennis ball now– and definitely a donut). My dream job, aside from the one I have, would be on-air college basketball analyst for ESPN. (The son of a coach, I am obsessed.)International affairs and education (I taught high school English for three years) are my pet issues. And cracked-out prostitutes will grant you an interview if you find common ground.

Interview continues after the jump…


What single person has played the biggest role or has had the biggest influence on your career? Tough to say one, single person, because I really had great professors at the University of Delaware (Dr. Ross, Bill Fleischman, Dr. Jackson, Ralph Begleiter); David Klatell, Judith Matloff and Tom Edsall really pushed me at Columbia; and professionally, I’ve been VERY lucky to have had some of the best mentors in the business– with Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and the whole team at NBC and Susan Zirinsky, Kathy Frankovic and Maria Mercader at CBS. Chuck and Z are absolutely frenetic. Their work ethic is incredible. They are up earlier than everyone and just flat out never stop. They eat, sleep and breathe this stuff. That’s really important for this generation of journalists to understand– that rolling up your sleeves matters if we’re going to carry on the mantle of leadership.

Who is your favorite active journalist? See above with my mentors. But there are so many people who do such a great job and really are worth emulating in tone and substance. Lisa Myers, Pete Williams and Andrea Mitchell are fantastic to watch go about their jobs. They are extraordinarily detailed, diligent and make sure the facts drive their reporting. (Tim Russert was my favorite and the model for political analysts. I was lucky to work with him. I still keep him in mind with every small decision.) And in print, Tom Ricks is tough to beat.

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