Roll Call has been quietly grooming Senate reporter David Drucker for a new position: Associate Politics Editor for CQ Roll Call. It’s a role that hadn’t been filled ever since Roll Call‘s Christina Bellantoni left to become Political Director for PBS’ NewsHour. In a phone interview with FishbowlDC Monday, Drucker, a Malibu native, shed light on his career, a physical altercation he once had with actor Gary Busey‘s son, Jake, and why he thinks Hollywood celebrities seek Washington’s limelight.
What will you be doing in your new role? I’m going to sort of be a deputy, but I’m going to write regularly both in print and for At the Races campaign blog.
How do you feel about the switch? It’s exciting. When I originally came to Roll Call in ’05, I was on the politics team. As much as I love the Senate and all the Capitol Hill intrigue, I really love campaign politics. It’s something that I definitely made a choice to do, both in writing and in editing to help to drive our politics coverage. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Will you be doing a lot more TV? That’s my plan. My plan is for this position to help me in that regard, not hinder me. Everyone here has been really encouraging about wanting what I do media wise to continue and grow.
Are you comfortable on TV? Yes, more or less. I’d never done TV until the summer or fall of ’06. The first time I did it I figured it was pretty much a disaster. I joke around here that I am a media whore, but I enjoy going on TV and giving my analysis. I like the stage. I think it’s fun. I think it’s good for the paper. I hope it’s helpful to the paper, but I really enjoy doing it. I feel our PR has helped me get places I’ve wanted to go.
It’s no secret that it’s looking like CQ and Roll Call are officially merging. How do you feel about that? [Before journalism] I was in a different business. You have to be very vigilant and pay attention to the business side of things. My thumbnail sketch of journalism is maybe it was always this competitive, but I think it’s more competitive now than what it used to be. I used to sell home furnishing products, [which meant] always competing on price and delivery. We had to find creative ways of delivery. To me, this is what I’ve always done. Make sure you love what you do, but make sure you are at a company that is successful so you can make sure you can pay the rent. It’s one of the things I like about Roll Call. Even through the recession we have continued to make a profit.
What do you think about the potential of Roll Call being swallowed up by CQ? I think we still put out a really good product. In any company there are changes. Most of the changes I’ve experienced are positive. Change isn’t always fun, but I look at it as something that goes along with a business. In some ways I consider myself to be a part of both CQ and Roll Call. In a lot of the ways we are marketed as both. I write for Roll Call according to the masthead. My name appears in Roll Call and I’m still proud of that. My general rule of thumb is as long as the checks still clear and it is well received I will be happy with all.
Tell me about your start in journalism. I got my start at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, in Ontario, California. Eventually they sent me to Sacramento, where I covered the ’03 recall campaign and Arnold Schwarzenegger. After he was elected governor, the parent paper in our group, the L.A. Daily News, hired me to cover him and state government from their Capitol bureau. I had a great time.
You grew up in California? Grew up in Malibu. You can only do so much in Malibu when you’re not surfer. I fashioned myself a basketball player when I was a kid. I’d do that rather than surfing. It was still fun to live at the beach. I went to UCLA.
So stars were clearly part of the culture. I saw them in the grocery store. You see them dressed in their ratty grungy worst. Dustin Hoffman used to jog at the Junior High School. I went to elementary school with Josh Evans, whose father was Ali MacGraw and Robert Evans. And Jake Busey [son of Gary Busey pictured at right). We actually got in a fight once. Oh nobody won. It was a stupid Jr. High School fight. He kicked, I kicked. There were Roy Orbison’s kids in my junior high. I haven’t thought about this in a long time. you get so used to it.
With the White House Correspondents’ Dinner coming up this weekend, why do you think Hollywood is so focused on Washington? How can I say this? I think Hollywood actors under value what they do. I think they provide a lot of entertainment to people that is actually meaningful. They make a lot of money. I think they don’t value what they do, and I think they think what we do here is valuable. They can tell a story and make people feel happy or sad. It’s actually very unifying. I think they undervalue it, so they look at us and think we’re doing something really important. I think you could tell this to any of them and they might think I’m ridiculously idiotic.
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