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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Jaffe’

On BuzzFeed, Boogers and Ethics

Writing a story about someone else’s booger feature is no easy task. On some email requests I put a simple, bland, “request for comment.” On others, I went for shock value: “BuzzFeed’s booger post.” It wasn’t plotted. I imagined some might find it funnier than others.

On Tuesday night, BuzzFeed‘s Benny Johnson took Washington’s political and media worlds by surprise by creating a GIF feature about House Speaker John Boehner allegedly checking out his boogers. BuzzFeed Political Editor McKay Coppins promoted the story, even guided readers to it on Twitter.

The headline reads: “John Boehner Looks at His Boogers During the State of the Union.”

Who among us would have the mental fortitude to look away from a Boehner booger post? “It looks like a first-step by BuzzFeed into honest coverage,” said former TWT Editor and Public Affairs exec Sam Dealey. “After all, everyone — the Speaker, the public and evidently BuzzFeed’s reporter too, was bored by the speech and looking for anything even remotely more interesting.”

Boogers are interesting. But by and large, the editors and journalists around town that we interviewed opposed the booger post. “Dumb and dumber; political coverage as booger op? What next: beaver shot?” asked Washingtonian‘s media writer Harry Jaffe. WTOP’s Jim Farley also expressed journalistic outrage. “I believe it is over the top,” he said. “It would have been like showing video of George H.W. Bush throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister at a State Dinner. A private moment.  Would we show video of Michelle Obama’s skirt blowing up on a windy day?”

Um, there’s actual video showing Bush throwing up? As it turns out, there is.

And by the way, there’s no judgment here. We’ve written about everything from Larry King passing gas on air and a journo popping a zit at a party to females showing ample amounts of cleavage and breasts on TV. Suffice it say, BuzzFeed can write about the Speaker’s alleged boogers if they want to and there won’t be any ethical bitching from us.

And yet we couldn’t help but wonder, is this, in part, the psychological result of our miniscule attention spans and around-the-clock reporting? That we now require boogers to grab our collective attention?

“Poking fun at people in power has always been been part of political journalism,” Coppins told FishbowlDC when asked to comment on the matter. “Dead-tree newspapers used to do it with political cartoons; now the internet does it with GIFs and memes. What actually struck me most about this State of the Union was how many other news sites were competing with us on that front. A year ago, we would have been the only ones GIFing Marco Rubio’s reach for the water bottle; this year we were racing with The Atlantic‘s Twitter feed.”

But some journalists thought BuzzFeed had slipped beneath themselves. “That’s certainly a headline you don’t see every day,” said a longtime Washington editor who preferred to remain anonymous. “But regardless, this is over the line. A classic example of something that gets hits, but is in poor taste. The post appeals to the 10-year-old in all of us, and that’s not a good thing. BuzzFeed is better than this.”

A cable news insider agreed, saying, Read more

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Chuck Todd the Dog is Jumping the Shark

Chuck Todd the dog was pretty funny the first time. He was still mildly amusing the second and third times he made the Washington media rounds. But now? The whole thing is getting stupid and tedious.

On Tuesday, Washingtonian‘s media writer Harry Jaffe wrote up a brief punchy interview with the dog and his owners. It was complete, nothing else was needed. But today, Scott Stump, a contributor for NBC’s, felt some burning need to regurgitate the news back to us in yet another extended feature on the pooch with the famous name. Human Chuck Todd, the NBC White House Correspondent, appears to be playing along and offering up varying quotes for journalists who ask — he’s no fool when it comes to the dog’s 15 minutes of fame. And what’s he going to do, tell his network that he’s tired of Chuck Todd’s media whore parents trying to steal his thunder?

But enough is enough. If Chuck Todd is headed for the front of the NYT‘s Style Section we’re going to boycott. We’re done. Over it. Run free, Chuck Todd. Run free. (And yes, we mean the dog.)

If you must, read TODAY‘s version of the story here. But we suggest Jaffe’s, it’s better, funnier and won’t make you wish for the last five minutes of your life back.

The above photograph appeared on

Washingtonian Media Writer Meets Chuck Todd The Dog

In mid-December, syndicated columnist Karl Frisch unearthed an odd tidbit of news that a dog answering to Chuck Todd, named after the NBC White House correspondent, had surfaced at his dog park. He snapped a picture and slapped it up on Twitter. Now Washingtonian media writer Harry Jaffe has gone a step further: he interviewed the owner and the dog when he, too, came across Chuck Todd the pooch at the dog park.

It turns out Todd, the human version, has a following of women. The dog owner’s wife as well as Jaffe’s wife, Louise, both consider themselves to be Chuck Todd groupies.

“Chuck Todd is at once frisky and easygoing, engaging but calm,” writes Jaffe of the four-legged Chuck Todd. He exudes, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m saying, and I have the numbers and sources to prove it.’”


Holy S#!T! Robin Givhan Back at WaPo?

Stop the presses! Has WaPo stolen fashion writer Robin Givhan back from the clutches of Tina Brown‘s failed Daily Beast?

Last month Washingtonian‘s Harry Jaffe reported that Brown let Givhan go. Givhan told Jaffe, “I”m shell-shocked.”

Last night at 8:47 p.m. WaPo published this lengthy story in its Style section by Givhan on inaugural gowns and the global interest the ordeal attracts. Much of the story details the fashion designers who have attracted a flash of attention from various first ladies only to later crash and burn.

As if he predicted the story in WaPo, Jaffe wrote, “Brown could not have picked a worse time, for her, to let Givhan go. The inaugural season is the height of fashion coverage in the capital.”

The headline: “The agony and ecstasy of creating inaugural gowns”

We’re told that Givhan will have more stories in WaPo. But speaking of agony, is she back for good? She left WaPo for The Daily Beast in December, 2010. A click on her name shows her picture and a single word description: “Critic.” We’ve reached out to WaPo spokeswoman Kris Koratti for more details.

Update: “It’s a freelance piece,” Koratti replied. The print version includes the phrase with her byline, “Special to the Washington Post.”


WaPo: Marty Baron In, Marcus Brauchli Out

WaPo gets a new leader today. It’s The Boston Globe‘s Marty Baron. As Washingtonian’s Harry Jaffe and others predicted, Steamed Marcus Brauchli is out.

The publication has announced announced that Baron has been named executive editor of WaPo effective January 2, 2013.

Brauchli will step down on Dec. 31, and will step into a new role as VP of The Washington Post Company.

More on Baron…

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Marion Barry Says Media Doesn’t Give Him Fair Shake

D.C. Councilman Marion Barry joined a skim 24 people at the Georgetown Ritz this afternoon for a lunch featuring Washingtonian‘s Carol Joynt in her televised Q & A Cafe. Looking dapper in a gray suit, red and pink striped tie and shiny shoes, Barry’s smoothness oozed in his cool demeanor as he answered all of Joynt’s pointed questions and shied away from nothing.

In case you’re wondering, yes, she asked about the drugs, not crack specifically, but his addiction and his infamous line: “the bitch set me up.”  She brought up his marriage and his reported slur against Asian shopkeepers. She also inquired about a possible memoir that the 76-year-old pol may have in the works.

“It’s one chapter,” he said about the drug portion of his life. When she pushed him on it, he added, “Maybe two.”

While Barry and Joynt treated each other in what can be described as a polite, detached manner throughout the interview, things often grew heated.

The Drugs

Joynt really pressed him hard on whether anger is at the root of his addiction issues. “Addiction doesn’t have anything to do with anger, not for me,” Barry said, growing annoyed with her presumption. “It has to do with, we all want to feel good.” And with that he let out a big laugh.


Asked if he’s married, Barry replied, “Technically, yes. Cora [Masters] and I are separated and anything else about that is personal.” He lives in a duplex. No pets.

The Media

Barry took more than a few jabs at the media. “Newspapers are supposed to report the news, not make the news,” Barry said. “Too many reporters are trying to make the front page.” Asked if Washington media gives him a fair shake, Barry replied, “No, and that’s wrong.” Joynt asked why. “That’s their nature,” he replied. After the interview, we pressed him further on his feelings about the media. He said emphatically, “I’m not down on anybody. The media is down on me.”

Asian Store Owner Slur

In April of this year, Barry apologized on Twitter for calling Asian businesses “dirty.” Asked about the alleged slur, he said, “I was quoted out of context.” Asked to explain himself, he reasoned, “I mixed up two ideas.” She asked if he had any Asians on his staff. No. Latinos? No. He said 90 percent of his staff is African American.

Barry’s thoughts on the election and which reporters showed up for lunch…

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Washingtonian Points WaPo’s Brauchli Toward the Door: But is he Really Leaving?

Is WaPo‘s Executive Editor Steamed Marcus Brauchli on his way out, or does Washingtonian just have a lot of questions?

Makes us want to go on a question rampage. Namely, is this mere rumor or imminent? A story published this week by Washingtonian media writer Harry Jaffe, who has written at least a couple anti-WaPo management stories in his day, seems to think it’s just a matter of time before Brauchli gets blanched. Management formally denies that Brauchli is leaving anytime soon, but anonymous newsroom sources tell him the rumors are heating up and have been since the beginning of the year.

The headline: “Is Marcus Brauchli Soon to Be Out at the Washington Post?”

All in all, the short piece contains eight questions including the headline and takes stabs at who might replace Brauchli should he leave.

Might Washingtonian have more details on this soon? Will Brauchli read Jaffe’s story and start packing up his things or will he start throwing darts at his nifty Harry Jaffe office dartboard that he got in the last office Secret Santa gift exchange? Who knows?

We reached out to WaPo PR for comment. They promised to get check on Washingtonian‘s report and get back to us.

Washingtonian‘s Employs Unique Butt Phrasing

In a brief story bearing the headline, “Is It Jim Vance’s Suits?” Washingtonian media writer Harry Jaffe takes a crack in the magazine’s August edition at answering why NBC4 dominates the local news ratings. The question isn’t necessarily answered, though the colorful writer wonders whether it’s the aforementioned suits, Pat Collins‘ “quirky hats” or else just the “sheer number of familiar faces.” Jaffe then tosses in a bizarre dirty line that baffled us. He writes, “WUSA9 comes in third and Fox 5 brings it up the rear.”

Really, Jaffe, up the rear? Bravo on getting that through editing.


HBO’s ‘Newsroom’ Gets Dim Reviews in D.C.

By Eddie Scarry and Betsy Rothstein

HBO’s drama Newsroom debuted Sunday night. The series tells the story of an easily agitated cable news anchor played by Jeff Daniels who has a public meltdown at Northwestern University resulting in a mass exodus of his staff. What’s a newsroom without a resident alcoholic, a wonk and a love triangle? Sam Waterston plays the drunken president of ACN who tells Daniels privately that he loved the meltdown. Dev Patel plays a perfect wonk. Who wouldn’t love to have him on their news team? A former love interest played by Emily Mortimer takes over his program as executive producer with plans to shake up the newscast for better or worse. And the love triangle: Daniels’ assistant played by Alison Pill is seeing an arrogant ass of a reporter (Thomas Sadoski) in the newsroom who doesn’t want to get too serious. Will she shack up with the new guy played by John Gallagher (check him out below)? Stay tuned…

Gawker published a favorable review by broadcasting legend Dan Rather. If subsequent episodes are as good as the first, he wrote, “then [Newsroom creator] Aaron Sorkin has a winner.”

ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper was less kind. In TNR, he called the show “sadly disappointing.” Similarly negative reviews were published in the NYT, WaPo and The New Yorker magazine.

We asked around to see what Washington’s media thought about the show. Sadly the viewing community, minus Slate‘s Dave Weigel, wasn’t large. And among those who watched, most abhorred it while a small minority of journalists are on the fence and plan to keep watching.

“Didn’t watch… don’t plan to… why do I want to spend my down time watching a fictionalized account of what I supposedly do for a living?” — NBC’s Chuck Todd

“So badly do I but I don’t get HBO despite trying to get it specifically so I could watch this show. I need someone to rent me a living room with HBO next weekend so I can check it out.” — RCP’s Erin McPike

“Going into the show I was highly skeptical, but you know I was entertained. Was it the west wing? No.  True to life? no (I’ve never seen a bottle of whiskey in my newsroom) but a quality first outing. I think it got the energy of a newsroom right. I’ll watch next week.One knock, but its kind of part of the Sorkin playbook…it got a touch preachy. I do wish the newsroom had a breaking news siren or something. — ABC7′s Kris Van Cleave

“Not sure I feel one way or another about it yet. I did identify with some of the situations, the environment and some of the characters, but I wasn’t fully convinced. Plus, the best part was the on-stage meltdown. It slowed considerably after that. Enjoyable but not addictive – at least not yet.” — CNN’s Matt Dornic

“I got rid of cable when I was watching too many “real” housewives. When I found myself wasting my time watching Kimmie’s wig pulled off on the streets of Atlanta – and my kids glued to Cartoon Network – cable had to go … Leaves me more time to read Fishbowl.” — ABC7′s Rebecca Cooper

“If the point of The Newsroom was to leave West Wing fans feeling a bit embarrassed, Sorkin succeeded. However, I am excited to share this experience with Twitter until the show ends.” — The Heritage Foundation’s Director of Communications Rory Cooper

“Didn’t watch. Think I’ll wait then tackle three or four episodes in one sitting.”– Politico‘s Dylan Byers

“Didn’t watch, though did enjoy Sorkin’s A Few Good Men on (I think) TNT Saturday”– Politico‘s Alex Burns

“I did, largely because 1) the negative reviews/profiles were so succulent and 2) I needed to procrastinate. Maybe Dan Rather is right, and people in print media just don’t understand whether or not this feels REAL. (When I do MSNBC, I’m sort of an in-and-out guest in the newsrooms and studios, so I have not seen a newsroom burst into action to chase down BP statements.) That said… seriously, they broke the BP story wide open because they ran with the new guy’s two sources? Isn’t that how the Paris correspondent gets in trouble in “The Imperfectionists”?”– Slate’s Weigel.

“I am probably the only person in D.C. whose job it is to write about entertainment and did not tune in. I’ll watch it when I get home tonight, but from all of the scathing reviews I have pretty low expectations, which is disappointing because I love a good walk and talk. I have “Sports Night” queued up on Netflix in case I need to cleanse my palette afterward.”– The Daily Caller‘s Taylor Bigler

“I turned off HBO after True Blood, the Newsroom’s plot just seemed too dark and twisted.” — USA Today‘s Jackie Kucinich

“Tedious.” — The Daily Caller‘s TV Reporter Jeff Poor

“No, didn’t watch watch it and won’t watch it.. I work in a newsroom. Why in god’s name would I then go home and watch a show about working in a newsroom? Give me an episode of Game of Thrones!” — NBC’s Andy Gross

“I thought it was mostly fun, albeit pretty melodramatic with the various speeches, especially the ones delivered by the Brit woman. Plenty of news organizations are “popular” without pandering to one audience or another. Thought Jeff Daniels was great as a cynical, beaten-down new sguy who could have been a print or digital person as well as a TV one.” — BusinessWeek‘s Bryan Gruley

“I didn’t watch. I’m lame.” — NYT‘s Mark Leibovich

“Sorry, In ATL this week for a conference. Didn’t see it.” — HuffPost‘s Christina Wilkie

See more responses from Washington journos…

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NOT Harry and Louise

It is a sad, sad day in the Fishbowl. We checked in with our favorite advice column from Washingtonian magazine, Ask Harry and Louise. It’s the column by Harry Jaffe and his wife, Louise. We always say if THEY are qualified to give advice, WE are qualified to give advice. Apparently, they are no longer qualified to give advice. On their page is the somber announcement.

Dear Readers:

Thanks so much for asking, reading, and responding to Ask Harry and Louise. Much appreciated.

We are taking a few months off.

Please stay tuned.

Harry and Louise

We are devastated. As much fun as we had with the column, we looked forward to reading their advice, no matter how much we sometimes disagreed with it. So, it is with a heavy heart that we deliver one more edition of NOT Harry and Louise. You know how this works. We take the questions submitted to their column and answer them with our own advice. So, here’s today’s question from a concerned restaurant worker.


Dear Harry and Louise,

I work as a server at a high-end, much-sought-after restaurant in Washington. I worked my way up to server after serving as a hostess for a month. While I don’t see myself as a server forever, it’s a good way to make money until I head to graduate school. The manager who schedules all of the servers keeps giving me the worst shifts: midweek lunches, the occasional dinner. I have requested to have more weekend nights when I could make much more money. She always explains that she still sees me as a server in training. She does not consider me “broken in” yet. She makes these comments despite the fact that I am good at what I do, and the customers are more than happy with my service.

Yesterday, she told me that a local TV anchor (and a bit of a DC celebrity) was coming for lunch and would be sitting in my section, but that she was going to give that table to Frank, another server who’s older but not better than me. I was furious. I asked her why. Frank has not been working there much longer than I have. I have also seen Frank and my manager heavily flirting with each other, and they left together one evening as I was finishing a shift.

After she gave him the VIP table, I was talking with another server.

“She’s sleeping with him,” my coworker said. “Everyone knows.”

Everyone but the general manager and the owner. I know both of them. Should I bust the manager? Talk to her? Keep my mouth shut?

I don’t have to tell you that this is not a situation that is unique to the restaurant industry. Hell, this is Washington, D.C. Sadly, no one does sex scandals, secrets and favoritism better than we do. So, while we are sympathetic to your problem, we are not surprised. The way we see it, you have a shitty boss. So, your options are pretty limited. You could make a stand. Confront your boss. Demand better shifts and better tables. If she says no, be prepared to walk and find employment elsewhere. That’s ONE way to go. But, we prefer another idea. Eff with your boss. Find subtle ways to let HER know that YOU know that she’s getting a serving of Frank’s meat whenever she can. Make her sweat a little bit. If she has half a brain, she realizes that she could get in a lot of trouble for screwing her subordinate, so scare her a little bit. Sure, it sounds shady and it’s borderline blackmail, but that’s just how business gets done in this town.

But, what do we know? Let’s ask Harry Jaffe and his wife, Louise, what they think. After all, they have had their own advice column in Washingtonian magazine. Let’s start with Harry.

But my logical side says it’s better to be professional. Don’t go above her head. Don’t confront her. The best course is to withdraw from this toxic stew. Keep the job as long as necessary, look for another, hasten plans to hit graduate school. And smile–especially at Frank.

That’s fairly reasonable. You could always just walk and find another job. Just deal with this bad job until you find a better one. Not bad, Jaffe. What about Louise?

Your devious side will create more drama and likely lead to your losing your job. Keep the job, and head to graduate school as soon as possible.

So, she basically agrees with Jaffe. To just shuffle through it until you find something better. But, we still like the idea of screwing with your boss’s head.

So, there you have it. Our final NOT Harry and Louise for the time being. We can only hope that Washingtonian resumes this advice column in the very near future.