On Sunday afternoon Mama Ayesha’s Calvert café, a decades-old haunt of the late UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas, held a memorial in her honor. There were friends, family and a handful of her closest journalist colleagues. This is not the big, public memorial service that’s in the works, which is scheduled for Oct. 5 at the National Press Club, but we’re told it was a gathering of people Thomas would have wanted to party with at least one more time. Read more
Posts Tagged ‘Helen Thomas’
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The White House press office released a statement from the President on the death of longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas. News of her death came Saturday. Reports indicate she had a long illness. She was 92.
“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Helen Thomas. Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism. She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes. What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. Our thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.”
Back on May 3, the world commemorated “World Press Freedom Day.” Everyone except North Korea, that is. They decide to wait until May 15 to celebrate by running an editorial in the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun. The piece is called “Mockery of Press” and it takes several shots at American media and the so-called ”Freedom of report.”
WaPo reports on the rambling editorial, which seems to make the argument that American media is both too restricted and too free. While it seems to be a generalization of ALL of American media, two reporters get glowing reviews from The Dear Leader.
Who are Kim Jong-Un’s approved reporters? Read more
Say hello to Paul Brandus who writes West Wing Reports and a column for The Week. He’s an independent White House Correspondent who writes a blog and has a Twitter account in which he doesn’t use his name. How come he goes nameless? “Here’s a question for you,” begins his standard refrain about it. “Name the CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN & Fox reporters at the White House 10 years ago. How about five years ago? This may come as a disappointment to many folks in this egocentric town, but most people can’t remember the names. And that’s at the most visible beat in Washington. Names fade quickly. But brand names have enduring market value. People have no idea who I am personally. I’d prefer they know my brands, one of which is West Wing Reports. Brands can be licensed, flipped, monetized in more enduring ways.” Even so, let’s get to know the man behind the brand, shall we? Brandus was a foreign correspondent in Moscow for five years. He worked for the U.S. Embassy, eventually NBC and NPR and did some magazine work. While in Moscow, he bought the broadcast rights to the Super Bowl from the NFL. He later worked at MSNBC and Fox — he says the concept of this makes people’s heads explode. “I helped launch MSNBC back in 1996,” Brandus explains. “Worked for Steve Capus, who went on to become President of NBC News. Good man. I was a writer, but apparently too good of a writer because they put me in charge of editing all the other writers. That’s where I learned the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your people will cause 80 percent of your problems. At Fox News, I was a senior prime time producer in New York, working on news cut ins every half hour. If the you-know-what hit the fan, we had to run into the control room across the hall and break into Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes. Great fun.” Brandus worked on Wall Street for several years, cashed out and started another media company, his own. In 2011 he became a columnist for The Week. He moderates conferences for them on energy and cybersecurity. He also works with a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Brandus won’t be found on the Washington cocktail circuit. Instead, he spends his weekends with his 18-month-old daughter or family horses in Fairfax County.
Now let’s proceed to the really important stuff.
If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Cherry Coke Zero
How often do you Google yourself? Once or twice a year.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? My old boss, Jim Farley, who hired me twice – first at NBC years ago and later at WTOP – taught me WGAS: “Who gives a shit?” It has universal applications today and I’ve used it to great effect in various times and places. WGAS is also text-friendly.
Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Anyone who understands it’s not about them. Anyone who eschews the limelight and simply focuses on finding things out, communicating about it well and not pretending to be an expert or feeling compelled to have an opinion on everything.
Who is your favorite White House reporter and why? The wire service folks are usually the best. Not flashy, just solid, nose-to-the-grindstone types day in and day out. I really admire them.
Do you have a favorite word? “Dada.” Uttered by a certain 17-month old little girl.
What word or phrase do you overuse? “Dumb ass.” Use it a lot.
Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s John King or CNN’s Piers Morgan. Tell us why. I think John King is an honest, hard-working, straight shooter guy. You know what I like about him? He made a mistake during the Boston coverage and dealt with it in a transparent, humble and honest way. People err – and it’s how they deal with it – for better or worse – that I remember. I tend to get along well with people like that.
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had in awhile in the course of your work and who was it with? If I hadn’t hung up on Ronald Reagan in 1990, it might have been the time when, on a dare, I called him at home in 1990. This was a year after he left the White House. The Reagans were living in Bel Air and I never thought he would answer the phone himself. But I heard that famous voice: “Hello?” on the other end, freaked out and hung up. To use my favorite word, I was such a dumb ass. So I guess the answer would be the time I downed vodka shots with Boris Yeltsin at a Fourth of July party at Spaso House, the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. I was lurking by the bar when he came over and we wound up downing a few and chatting. That’s what you do in Russia. Drink. Talk. Drink some more.
Tell us a funny story from the White House Briefing Room. Can be long or short. There used to be a guy named Lester Kinsolving, who used to show up in the briefing every day. Haven’t seen him in many months. He used to ask the most bizarre, completely out of left field questions imaginable on completely obscure, irrelevant matters. Bush’s flacks and now Obama’s used to call on him as a diversion. And, in this digital age, he used to carry a giant cassette recorder around with him like it was 1983 or something. Not picking on Lester, he is a nice guy. Hope he’s OK.
Without naming names, tell us some shitty thing that happened in the course of you covering the White House… Read more
The Daily Caller‘s Nicholas Ballasy posted a photo of him and veteran journalist Helen Thomas to his Facebook wall last May. He told us he had spotted Helen at a hotel bar where she offered to buy him drinks.
Mysteriously, the photo vanished and Ballasy declined to tell us more about the counter. We had a modern day Helen Thomas mystery on our hands.
However, in honor of that episode, we wish Ballasy and Thomas a happy Valentine’s Day and present them with their hypothetical love child. We’ve named him Rufus.
Say hello to Knight Kiplinger, Editor in Chief, Kiplinger publishing (Kiplinger Letters, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, Kiplinger.com). We spoke by phone this morning just after he did his ritualistic yoga exercises. He spends 20 minutes each morning doing stretches and poses to put himself in a good frame of mind. “I don’t watch much TV,” he noted quickly into the call, saying the Fishbowl interview wasn’t necessarily ideal for someone who doesn’t watch a lot of TV. (We’ll keep that in mind.) “I’m not older than dirt, but I came up through newspaper journalism and print journalism so that’s kind of my bias in my news diet.” Asked about the current state of journalism, Kiplinger’s thoughts are enlightening. POLITICO reporters, you may want to stop reading now. “I think we’ve seen the decline of careful consideration, the emphasis is on quick response, the immediate reaction,” Kiplinger said. “The best journalism is not always the fast journalism. The first analysis is often not carefully considered. Good journalism takes time. It takes reporting. We’ve seen a decline of in-depth reporting. A newspaper reporter had eight or ten hours to do hard reporting, deep reporting, talking to many, many sources before writing a story. The internet has forced everyone to work faster and that sometimes undercuts journalistic quality. So that is the problem.” Here’s the point where WaPo‘s Ezra Klein should stop reading. “These days a lot of young journalists, they all want to be columnists, giving the world their opinions,” he said. “Journalists try to build themselves into a brand, into a marketable entity that can move from periodical to periodical. Of course, that’s what columnists have always done.” Kiplinger sees danger signs. “With too much emphasis on celebrity, the content of journalism gets short shrift. A bigger threat to quality journalism is the unwillingness of young adults to pay for journalism. Older adults will still pay for content. They comprise the subscription-paying readership.” Kiplinger still gets two newspapers at home: WaPo and TWT. At the office he reads WSJ and NYT. “I look through them very rapidly,” he says of WaPo and TWT, saying he prefers to read them in print than online and can do so faster. He particularly enjoys WaPo‘s Metro section. He’s also a relentless reader of obituaries. “In my next life I am going to be an obit writer,” he says. Moving along, he has grave concerns about the industry: “Revenue on internet is not sustaining high quality journalism,” he said. But on a positive note, he added, “the internet has given everyone [a medium]…that is a powerful force, a positive force. This trend will continue.” On the future of journalism: “There will be fewer jobs in traditional journalism for young journalists who want to be the reporter, who want to tell the story of modern life. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon. We’re in the throws of a great democratization of media. Editing today is a luxury many media feel they can’t afford. You don’t have the level of trust that you once had. Traditional media were gatekeepers to information. They were the mandarins who selected what they thought the public needed to know.” Kiplinger is on Twitter, but he’s not enthralled by it. “Yeah I tweet,” he said. “If you went to my Twitter account you’d see I tweet infrequently. I try to restrain my tweets to kind of broader observations about things going on in the economy. I work very hard to condense and distill. I don’t have a Twitter support staff as a lot of semi-celebrity journalists do.” As an aside, he notes…“There are some people who think I am a celebrity. I just think I’m an ink-stained wretch. I’m not a hyperactive tweeter.” On family…He’s a longtime choral singer and met his wife in the Washington Chorus in 1979. Incidentally, his daughter also met her fiance in the Washington Chorus (a detail reported in WaPo earlier this week). Facebook? “I don’t do Facebook at all. I don’t think the world is that interested in my daily life, and even if they are, I don’t want to share it with them.” Finally, I asked…what one piece of wisdom should every journalist know? He replied, “There’s no substitute for hard reporting.”
If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be?
Schweppes Tonic Water (with real quinine), my teenage favorite, even before I started adding gin.
How often do you Google yourself?
Rarely (Just noticed they now have photos of the search subject, too!)
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?
To the owner of the first newspaper I worked for, at 22 years old: “Reporters ought to earn as much as the layout guys with their razor blades and paste pots.” (He disagreed.)
You have an intriguing name. What is the story behind it?
It was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name (full name: Daphne Knight). No relation to the Knight publishing family, darn it.
Who is your favorite working journalist and why?
David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal. No one explains complex economic issues with more clarity and common sense than Wessel.
Do you have a favorite word?
I’m told I overuse “unconscionable,” so maybe that’s it.
Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Candy Crowley, ABC’s Martha Raddatz or Fox News’ Megyn Kelly? Tell us why.
I’m sure each of them would be a fine dinner companion, but I’d rather dine with Renee Montagne of NPR, co-host of “Morning Edition.” She’s a brainy journalist (Phi Beta from Berkeley), award-winning correspondent in South Africa and Afghanistan, adept anchor—and she sounds like a very nice person (based on interviews I hear regularly, and ones I’ve done with her while I was in the DC studio and she was at NPR West in California).
The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Scandal’s Kerry Washington, any of the women from FNC’s “The Five” or MSNBC’s S.E. Cupp. Who will it be? (None is not an option.)
I don’t know any of these women on sight (don’t watch much TV), so you pick one for my blind date, and I’m sure she and I will be able to save the Earth together. [Okay, we'll play your game. We pick Helen Thomas. That's what you get for not answering.]
What swear word do you use most often? “Damn!”…used sparingly.
You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)
On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be?
My zany and wise mother, Gogo Kiplinger (1919-2007)
Quotes of the Day
“Sunset over BloomingdaleDC” by Tracy Wahl, Supervising Producer at National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
BuzzFeed bureau chief gives D.C. tavern a big thumbs down
“If you can’t clean your damn collards and put a lil swine in em, WHY TRY YOU DUMB YANKEE?? #fallofshawstavern,” wrote John Stanton. “Also I have some sharp ass teeth. If its hard for me to eat your damn ribs YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, Shaw’s Tavern ‘Chef.’”
Post respiratory failure diet
“Pizza for dinner, cupcakes for dessert, washed down w a Super Big Gulp. Sounds like a lonely single guy’s political statement.” – Breitbart.com‘s Dan Riehl‘s riehlly stupid diet.
Wife orders editor to Target at 5:30 a.m.
“Dispatched by bride to Target at 530a to get in line for lad’s Xmas present. Second person just showed up. #merryxmas.” — National Journal Editor-in-Chief Ron Fournier. When asked by U.S. News & World Report‘s Robert Schlesinger what the present was, he replied, “The new Wii system. I’m just following orders.”
This 4-year-old wants your job
“My 4-year-old daughter to me: ‘Dad, I want to be a blogger.’ #changingtimes” — Political writer and jazz pianist Peter Daou.
And this father is in big trouble… “Bad dad forgets ballet slippers <shame>” — WTOP’s Neal Augenstein.
Journo bugged by building noise
“My weekends are now filled with the noise of construction on the apartment below. There oughta be a law.” — Kelly Jane Torrance, writer.
Peter Ogburn and Eddie Scarry contributed to this report.
A mean Helen Thomas joke and a journo spends part of weekend in ER…
Is WaPo’s Gene Weingarten OK? His latest column is pretty weird. Granted, most of what Weingarten writes is pretty weird, but this actually got our attention. He starts out by writing a love letter to his dog. Weingarten says:
“Her jowls are Churchillian, and she uses them with statesmanlike eloquence. Her eyes are bright and expressive, even if the sentiment they usually express is some variant of ‘Huh?’ She is given to idiosyncratic head tilts that can express inquisitiveness, defiance or concern. Her ears are enormous, heroic things, and though they are too large for her to prick up, she can raise and lower them like matador capes, as semaphores for her mood.”
The dog’s name is “Murphy“, though by his description, he should have named her “Helen Thomas.” Weingarten then talks about an encounter he and his dog had with a mouse. As Gene was working in the dining room, he and his dog saw a mouse walking across the floor. He (Gene, not Murphy or the Mouse) proceeds to conjure up an imaginary conversation that he had with his dog and the mouse. Here’s an example of the banter.
Murphy: I’m definitely thinking of getting up and doing something about this. I wonder if those things have teeth.
Murphy: Okay, I am getting up now, real slow and loud and squirmy-like, with a great deal of unnecessary lateral motion.
Mouse: (looking up) YIKES!!!
Just to be clear… A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the WaPo did an entire column on a fake conversation he had with animals. Either Gene has watched one too many Disney movies or he’s high on bath salts.
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