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Posts Tagged ‘Don Graham’

Have You Hung Up on This Man Lately?

As  you read this, freelance investigative conservative  journalist Evan Gahr is likely dialing up another unsuspecting media reporter or editor to pose one important question:

Why aren’t you writing about my story?

Forget email. Gahr’s a phone guy and his phone number hunting skills are pathologically effective — he’s dug up WaPo‘s Don Graham‘s home number, Kevin Merida‘s home and work numbers, Jonathan Capehart, Eugene Robinson, Erik Wemple, Politico‘s Hadas Gold and more. He says Politico’s Dylan Byers now recognizes his number and won’t pick up. WaPo‘s Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt has not returned his emails (but only because he couldn’t find his phone number). So far, many journos have allegedly hung up on him – count Merida, Wemple, The Daily Caller‘s Jordan Bloom and TWT‘s Jennifer Harper among them.

The story he’s referring to is a lawsuit filed against WaPo by a black sales employee who is charging race and age discrimination. He wrote about it last Wednesday for The Daily Caller.

A conversation with Gahr goes something like this. Read more

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Politics & Prose Owners to Bezos: Welcome to Washington You Ruthless Outsider

If Politics & Prose owners Brad Graham and Lissa Muscatine are any indication, WaPo‘s new owner Jeff Bezos could get a pretty frosty welcome to Washington, if you can even call it a welcome. In a prickly letter that spells out just what concerns them, they cite a variety of reasons for their disdain.

Both spent stints at WaPo in their respective journalism careers before they bought the bookshop. Both have strong ties to the Graham era of WaPo. Brad was a foreign correspondent, editor and Pentagon reporter; Lissa, a reporter and editor on the Metro and Sports staffs. Both worked under Don Graham‘s leadership. “Don is someone we both admire greatly, and we can’t imagine either journalism or Washington without the Post,” they wrote in a morning newsletter.

The couple really wants to believe the decision to sell to Bezos was a good one, but they have their doubts: “In the past two years, as stewards of another local cultural institution … we’ve routinely encountered a different version of Bezos. Indeed, among many independent booksellers he is perceived as a ruthless competitor bent on disrupting traditional retailers … without regard for the civic and commercial value that local bricks-and-mortar establishments still bring to neighborhoods around the country.”

During a recent appearance by NYT‘s Mark Leibovich at the shop for This Town, Lissa got bent out of shape when Leibovich even mentioned Amazon. She did not want him uttering the word.

After spending much of the newsletter detailing the pitfalls of Bezos, calling him a “bully” and Washington outsider who will continue to live in Seattle, they coldly welcome him to Washington. With a letter like this, no doubt Bezos will be sure to show up to Politics & Prose with bells on – or more likely, never.

“Now that Bezos will be a DC business owner, we’d like to extend our own welcome to him. We even hope that he might find time when in town to visit Politics & Prose and be reminded of the benefits afforded by local bookstores—the joy of browsing shelves, the help provided by expert staff, the pleasures of attending author events, and above all, the shared sense of community.

 

Fishbowl5 With FP CEO David Rothkopf

This week Susan Glasser, Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Policy Magazine for the past three years, dropped a bombshell on her staff and announced that she was leaving the publication for Politico, where she will head up a longform magazine-style writing department that will reportedly cost Publisher Robert Allbritton a good chunk of change. In recent weeks, FP has lost top writers like Josh Rogin to The Daily Beast and Kevin Baron to Atlantic‘s new Defense One. What’s more, the mag recently parted ways (amicably, we’re told) with Ed Diller, the publisher, as did the sales rep he brought over from the WSJ.

An FP source explained to FishbowlDC, “Ed was based on the West Coast, the other rep in NYC, and they were both extremely talented and good at their jobs. It just made sense for FP to redouble its efforts at its headquarters here in DC, and so that’s what happened. It certainly isn’t a reflection on their abilities and they both left the company on good terms.”

Sources tell us Rogin and Baron also left on good terms. “Baron is an excellent reporter – he was well-liked by his colleagues, he broke stories, worked his ass off, and did everything he was supposed to do. He may be able to provide more context regarding his departure. Rogin left to take the job at The Daily Beast. It was just a really good opportunity for him, and he’d done a lot here at FP.”

So how does FP CEO David Rothkopf feel about all the changes? Well, we asked him. And it turns out he had a hell of a lot to say.

It can be tough when an Editor-in-Chief leaves or it can be a bright spot, a sense of relief. What was your gut reaction when Susan Glasser told you she was leaving FP for Politico? I have a lot of respect for Susan and all she has accomplished not only at FP but also at the Washington Post. Her contributions to Foreign Policy—bringing it into the Internet Age, if you will—were enormous. But there are also creative cycles within organizations. Sometimes it can be helpful to hit the reset button, reevaluate and embark on the next period of change. This is a 44-year-old company that has gone through a number of such cycles and emerged stronger from each. That is what our intention is now. We have some big changes on the horizon—expanding coverage, new products, deepening the relationship with our readers in important ways—and so this can certainly be seen as a win-win moment. Good for Susan. And the beginning of new, great things for the FP community.

At least some of the staff appeared to be surprised by the news. Were they not given warning about it? This was handled just as it would be in any organization. Susan and I discussed for a couple of weeks. When we decided on what was going to happen we developed a plan to coordinate the messages from FP and Politico to ensure that this was seen as what it was, an amicable change that would begin important new eras at both publications. We then told top staff and made sure everyone in the organization was informed before the news broke publicly. We had a team meeting on Monday and the mood was just what you would hope for—appreciation for Susan and enthusiasm about the great opportunities that lie ahead.

Who will replace Glasser? Does Rothkopf know yet?

Read more

WaPo Misses Teen Rape Story: The Big Question is Why?

Last week a variety of news outlets reported that a teenage girl was raped by an Uber driver and that it was caught on tape due to surveillance cameras at a family’s northwest Washington home. The home, situated in an affluent neighborhood mere blocks from the National Cathedral in Cleveland Park, is nearby to where WaPo CEO Don Graham used to live.

And yet, guess which hometown publication had NOTHING on it? If you guessed WaPo, you’d be right. So much for local news. Right, Marty Baron, who is apparently crazy for local news, doesn’t start until January 2, 2013.

The order of reportage is as follows: The news first broke on a Cleveland Park listserv and was then reported by Popville, which covers D.C., on Dec. 14 at 3:50 p.m. Washington City Paper ran a story that same day at 7 p.m. but gave no credit to Popville. A site known as Nibletz also ran something that day — no specific time stamp. NBC Washington waited until that following Monday, a gargantuan three days after Popville, to run anything. They, too, gave no credit to the previous publications that had stories.

Why the lack of coverage by WaPo? Read more

Don Graham: Biggest Mistake Was Promoting Brand Instead Of People, Like ‘Appallingly Young’ Ezra Klein

Washington Post CEO Don Graham says the big mistake he made when he was publisher was promoting the Post brand over the brands of some of the talented reporters and editors there. Graham made the comments in a discussion with USA Today publisher Larry Kramer at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York.

“[TV networks] understand that personal brands are great, they want an experience built around personalities,” Graham said. “Newspapers like ours used to promote their internal personalities, and then for some reason shied away from it. When I was publisher, we promoted the brand more than the people, and I think that was a big mistake.”

One of those people is Post wunderkind Ezra Klein, who Graham had some kind words for, sort of. When talking about the paper’s coverage of the fiscal cliff, Graham said:

“One is a guy named Ezra Klein, who is disgustingly young, really appallingly young, but he runs a blog called wonkblog, and he and the people working for him pull together not just the politics, but the numbers that will happen on January 1 if the people that run our country can’t come together,” Graham said.

Good news Ezra, Don likes you! We think.

Intern Aftermath

Earlier in the week, we got tipped off by a WaPo staffer that management had released an internal document to the entire newsroom introducing the current crop of interns and what drew them to the paper.

One intern, Rosie Powers, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate, proceeded to introduce her new WaPo colleagues to their own CEO Don Graham. She told them he’s the son of Katharine Graham, explained who she was and misspelled her first name. Rosie committed no crime here. Nor did we “attack” this young woman or say she committed a “sin.”

But as usual, when we do what the rest of Washington’s journalism community does — which is, we dig, report, we get leaked documents — some went into an apoplectic uproar. FishbowlDC is “loathsome” remarked James Grimaldi, a longtime investigative reporter who recently took WaPo‘s buyout and is headed to the WSJ. 1. We’re quite certain that the self-righteous Grimaldi has been leaked documents once or twice in his career. 2. We’re sure he appreciated it. 3. We’re convinced he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the person in question’s feelings. A day earlier, NBC’s Luke Russert said FBDC had reached a “new low” and PBS’s Gwen Ifill appeared to second him, calling him a “good man” — apparently for writing that. For starters, we have a history of defending Luke when his enormous army of detractors writes to say what scum he is for riding his father’s coattails. Funny, he never saw fit to praise us for that. But more fittingly, Luke likely never considered the feelings of others when he interviewed ex-New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner last summer and nailed him on that Weiner underwear shot because everyone was doing it. By Luke and other’s standards, he probably should have thought about Weiner’s poor wife, Huma Abedin, or the innocent, unborn Weiner who hadn’t yet breathed his first weinerous breath.

Journalism is not about protecting people’s feelings. And in Washington when it’s not journalists being covered, it isn’t about feelings. When President Obama recently goofed and called Mitt Romney “George” which is his dead father’s name, the news cycle went wild. Was it petty? Maybe. Did family members get their feelings hurt? Who knows? No one cared. And when Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said first lady Michelle Obama had a large derriere in a private phone conversation, countless pubs (including and especially us) covered it. Were Michelle’s feelings on the line regarding the size of her rump? Again, it wasn’t an issue. But there’s a double standard. All reporting is fine as long as you’re dissecting the lives of government officials, their staffs and the White House. But dare to cover media in the same way that journalists here cover politics and that is preposterously off limits.

The outrage didn’t end with Grimaldi or Russert. WaPo‘s Gene Weingarten, who devotes much of his waking existence to poop, dubbed FBDC “petty” and called us “kindergarten muckrakers” who specialize in “phony” controversy. He spent actual time searching for FBDC stories he feels were particularly egregious. Meanwhile, Weingarten routinely calls up company administrators to harass them about a myriad of stupid things and then he writes about it. Half the time they don’t respond, the responses in his stories are blank spots and somehow this is considered humor. Meanwhile, FBDC is the lowest form of, to put in Weingarten terms, feces, out there. And for what? Getting leaked an odd piece of news about his own paper’s intern? Yes, suddenly there’s a huge moral problem here.

But what is more morally outrageous is the fragility with which this young woman, Rosie, is being treated by these longtime journos like Weingarten, Katharine Zaleski and Lauren Ashburn, Editor-in-Chief and founder of DailyDownload.com. They coddled her. Worse, they pitied her. Weingarten referred to her as a “kid.” Zaleski, formerly Executive Digital Director at WaPo, said an internship at WaPo was “preschool for interns” adding, “that’s what an internship is for.” She later said that was a typo and meant “press-school.” That’s SOME typo. Ashburn said this was “sad” that an “innocent” girl was being attacked. Russert, meanwhile, rode in on his white horse, saying, only “professionals” like him should be on the receiving end of supposed attacks. I’d like to think Rosie is well worth being considered a “professional” and not demean her as a weakling who needs swaddling. Whatever happened to grizzled editors who told you when your work wasn’t worth a damn? They cut your copy with brutal honesty and toughened you into being reporters who didn’t emote all day long. There were editors who killed your copy when it didn’t make sense. Or the ones who threw you out of their offices when you wasted their time with nonsensical chatter. Or the journalism profs who gave you big fat F’s for a single spelling error. Are today’s journalists expecting to have hands held and pacifiers in mouth every step of the way? Is the new mentality that media coverage must be gentle and Washington’s journalists must be protected from hurt feelings?

Seems the word “intern” caused some to go haywire this week as if the young woman’s age was reason enough to scrap the story. When a newspaper employs human beings, it is our beat to cover them, whether they are interns, reporters, editors or the blanched Marcus Brauchli himself. Chandra Levy was covered, but then again she was murdered and had been sleeping with a lawmaker. Monica Lewinksy, a low level White House aide, was covered. She gave the President a blowjob. What’s next, are reporters going to be forbidden from covering low-level staffers on Capitol Hill because they are fresh out of school? Next up: Jim Romenesko wrote a quick and dirty post wondering if FishbowlDC had reached a “new low.” His comments were minimal as is the Romenesko way. But he described what we wrote about Ms. Powers as “her sins” — his description not ours. Now there’s no doubt in our minds that Romenesko has never been leaked anything. To put the icing on the cake, The Guardian‘s Ana Marie Cox, who once made it her life’s mission to screw over many who helped her by giving them a good ass kicking on Wonkette, wrote in all caps, “Romenesko: HAS FISHBOWL REACHED A NEW LOW?” That’s rich, Ana. Call us when you get to that amends step.

Finally, where is the outrage for WaPo? Not only did they release internal documents about these youngsters to an entire newsroom of journalists, but they clearly didn’t carefully read what they had put out there. Or did they read it at all? WaPo Asst. Manager of Personnel Peter Perl wrote to say, “A new low today, picking on an intern. Really?” He didn’t bother with an email. He kept it all succinctly in the subject line. We certainly hope he’s coping in his paper’s post buyout haze with journalists leaving in droves this week and last. Maybe he was on a sugar high from all that goodbye caking? Clearly Perl wasn’t aware, but in a shocking twist of irony, WaPo went on Facebook this week to call for a public mocking of summer interns that they could meme-ify. They wrote, “Tell us about the questionable interns you’ve encountered and we’ll meme-ify your experience.” Urgent memo to Mr. Perl: Picking on an intern. Really? We’re not sure what’s worse — the word meme-ify or the fact that WaPo can’t apparently see its ass from its elbow or its own bullying mentality starting with Weingarten who devoted his entire Tuesday night to casting aspersions on FishbowlDC. Next Tuesday, Gene, we hope you will spend your evening doing something far more valuable such as changing the toilet paper roll or harassing a company spokeswoman. Let’s just hope she’s older than 22 and not an intern.

WaPo’s Chris Ma Dies

We’re very sorry to report that Christopher Ma, Publisher of Express, and Washington Post Company Senior Vice President, died suddenly Wednesday. Management is reportedly shocked, as Ma was was in excellent health and an exercise fanatic who took good care of himself. He was a well-respected Don Graham confidant.

Developing….

UPDATE: Read his WaPo obituary here. The newspaper published the story Thursday evening.

Background on Ma from a newspaper bio: “Previously, Ma was senior vice president and executive editor of Washington Post Digital, where he played a major role in the early editorial development of washingtonpost.com and Newsweek.com. He joined The Washington Post Company from U.S. News & World Report, where he served in a variety of senior editorial positions, including deputy editor from 1989 to 1996. Prior to U.S. News, Ma was a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Newsweek magazine, covering foreign affairs and economics. A lawyer by training, he is the co-author of two books: Teleshock (1985) and several editions of The Practical Guide to Practically Everything (1996-1998). A resident of Washington, DC, he serves as a director of Adharmonics and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and is a trustee of the Sidwell Friends School and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.”

Ma graduated from Harvard, where he received the Michael Clark Rockefeller Traveling Fellowship. He earned his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Honoring “Thought” with FP

Swarms of people with fancy accents, wearing even fancier business suits gathered at the Corcoran Gallery last night for a multifaceted event hosted by Foreign Policy.  The magazine wrapped into one night their 40th anniversary, special recognition for Richard Holbrooke (one of FP‘s original editors), the release of their 2010 “Top 100 Global Thinkers” list, a dinner and panel discussion.

FP Editor Susan Glasser

Following a packed cocktail hour on the gallery’s second floor, guests flowed downstairs for the event program.  The evening was kicked off by Don Graham who effervescently described the magazine’s growth and successes since the Washington Post Company acquired it in 2008.  Of the evening’s festivities Graham said, “This is the only event I can remember that honors thought.  Plenty honor power.”

Moderated by PBS’s Gwen Ifill and featuring Sen. John Kerry,Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, and electric-car visionary Shai Agassi, the panel focused mainly on energy policy and conservation but Ifill managed to slip in a few questions about the headlining WikiLeaks saga.

Ifill asked Davutoglu what he thought of the leaked documents that articulated the view of Turkey’s “Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources.”

Davutoglu responded diplomatically by first acknowledging  “an interesting and productive meeting with Hillary [Clinton] today” and then went on to remind the room of President Obama’s trip to  Turkey where he described the country as one of the most important strategic partners for America.

“Which should I take seriously,” questioned Davatoglu.   “Obama’s address to the Turkish parliament or these statements?”  The Foreign Minister ultimately dismissed the WikiLeaks documents, describing them as personal views from diplomats rather than government positions.

The WikiLeaks conversation carried on throughout the buffet dinner and drinks that followed the panel.  On the way out of the event, guests were presented with magazines and FP logo cookies.

A Big Night for Foreign Policy

Susan Glasser and the crew from Foreign Policy have a lot to celebrate this year – the 40th anniversary of their mag, a successful relaunch of ForeignPolicy.com, 1000% website traffic growth (10 million pageviews a month), and a  National Magazine Award.  Add those accomplishments to the release of their second annual “100 Global Thinkers” list and you’ve got good cause for a party.  And that’s exactly what the publication is doing tomorrow evening at the Corcoran Gallery.

Glasser, Don Graham and the editors of FP are hosting an invitation-only fete with two dozen global thinkers from around the world.  Slated to attend are big names such as bestselling author and columnist Thomas Friedman, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. John Kerry and Brazilian and Turkish Foreign Ministers.  The event will feature a special discussion with PBS’s Gwen Ifill, a dinner buffet and live jazz.

FishbowlDC will bring you the details of the party on Wednesday but you can check out FP‘s 2010 “100 Global Thinkers” list now.  Click here.

Did WaPo’s Shales Quit on Facebook?

After a cryptic post by Tom Shales, referencing “December 31st” and being “over-and-outta here,” appeared on Washington Post chairman Don Graham‘s Facebook wall yesterday, TBD.com suggested that WaPo‘s longtime TV critic may be quitting the Post.   Sources tell FishbowlDC that there have been rumblings that he is unhappy with Hank Stuever‘s recent promotion to WaPo‘s main critic – a transition that redefined Shales as a columnist. According to sources inside the newsroom “there is still a struggle over who reviews what.”

When reached for comment, a WaPo spokesperson told FishbowlDC, “Tom has been on contract since he took the buyout and he is still on contract.”

See TBD for the mysterious wall post.

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