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Posts Tagged ‘John King’

FishbowlDC Interview With Paul Brandus

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

CNN’s Best Week May be John King’s Worst

Despite the professional hit that John King took by botching the network’s coverage of the Boston bombings last week, consumers seem unfazed — tuning in and turning out in droves to CNN’s coverage both on air and online.

Last week King mistakenly said police had arrested a “dark-skinned male” when they had not. While King’s flounder became fodder for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and his network presence diminished, CNN persevered and “scored its best overall day” since the Iraq War, as reported by the LAT. What’s more, CNN Digital posted its most trafficked week on record – a whopping 808 million page views, even topping the last two presidential elections.

This doesn’t mean King is off the griddle.

As Mediaite reported today, he went on a WTOP this morning and admitted that his reporting took a toll on his credibility. He called it “embarrassing” and added that, as a Boston native, it was a “sort of a double kick to the head” and a “shot to your credibility.”

Inside CNN… Read more

CNN’s Zucker to Meet With NABJ to Discuss Network’s State of Black Journalists

CNN President Jeff Zucker is scheduled to meet today in Atlanta with the leadership of the National Association of Black Journalists to discuss the state of black journalists at the network, FishbowlDC has learned.

Bob Butler, Vice President of Broadcast for NABJ, posted a note on the group’s Yahoo list serve last night saying that he, President Greg Lee and Executive Director Maurice Foster, will sit down with Zucker today.

The meeting comes on the heels of an announcement last week that morning show anchor and NABJ member Soledad O’Brien is transitioning to a new and less visible role at the network producing documentaries.

Speculation continues… Read more

John King is Safe on CNN Survivor

CNN’s John King, long thought to be on the outs with the network after “John King USA” went belly up and personal issues marred internal relations, has had his contract renewed. In the game of CNN Survivor, under the new regime of President Jeff Zucker, King is safe.

Others  may not be as fortunate. Read more

CNN’s Blitzer, O’Brien Make Cameos in Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’

Though he participated in a well-documented Twitter fight back in 2009 with TWT‘s Emily Miller, it appears actor Kevin Spacey has forgotten who she is.

“I don’t know she is,” he said when asked if we could send Miller his regards at the red carpet premier of Netflix’s “House of Cards” last night at the Newseum. FishbowlDC explained that Miller tipped off the FBI about details surrounding the Jack Abramoff scandal, as portrayed in the film “Casino Jack,” starring Spacey himself. “Oh,” Spacey said, sort of recalling who Miller is. “Hi! Sure. I don’t know what you’re asking me,” he said. Then his handlers moved him along.

“House of Cards” tells the story of Francis Underwood, played by Spacey, a congressional Democrat who wheels and deals his way to the top of the political world. Michael Dobbs, the creator, told FishbowlDC that he wrote the story “as a form of therapy” after having worked as the chief of staff to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the late ’80s.

The Washington news corps. plays a heavy, fictional role in the show, which is based on the original 1990s BBC series of the same name. James Foley, one of the show’s directors, said while working on story lines he’d ask himself whether it would be believable if he saw it reported on CNN. If not, he’d ask the lead writer for adjustments to the script. He also said actual on-air talent from CNN make cameos in the show, including… Read more

Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day — Inauguration aftermath

“Wow. CNN. Inaugration.” — CNN’s John King with the above photograph.

A nod to C-SPAN

@cspan easily wins the award for best Inaugural Parade commentary – by having none and just letting viewers enjoy it.” — House Maj. Leader Eric Cantor‘s (R-Va.) Dep. Chief of Staff Doug Heye.

Michelle Obama’s bangs: Yay or Nay?

CNN’s Piers Morgan: “Am I allowed to not really like the bangs? I don’t really go for the bangs.” His colleague Erin Burnette disagreed: “I love them.”

Speaking of the first lady…

“Want. That. Coat.” — PBS’s Gwen Ifill.

Important Q to Ponder: “Has someone called Aretha Franklin’s hat for comment on Michelle Obama’s bangs?” — The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball.

Uh oh. “Jon Stewart is going to have a field day with this inauguration coverage. #dailyshow” — The Hill‘s Managing Editor Bob Cusack.

Dance Twins

“Obama and I apparently have the same dance style. I don’t know who should be sadder about that. #inaug13″ — Mandy Jenkins, Interactives Editor, Digital First Media.

The Angry Blogger

“Why the hell has my phone kept ringing today? I offered commentary. Did I declare terrorist action on Washington and am unaware? Ph-ck!” — Washingtonian‘s Javonni Brustow, who also editor of ThePundit.com and a blogger for PopGlitz.

The Observers

  • “Pelosi got a cheer at 7th and Penn. Boehner and Cantor didn’t. Almost like this crowd is Dems. #Inauguration.” — WaPo‘s Ben Pershing.
  • “Once again, some Republicans are ruining this day simply because they can. Please stop complaining. It’s not just abt you. It’s abt us all.” — Democratic pundit Donna Brazile.
  • “Watching the Benediction WWR cannot help but think of the burden that any president must bear. No one can truly understand – except them.” — Paul Brandus of WestWingReports.

Speaker Boehner Crying Watch: “Speaker Boehner wiping his eyes after lunch prayer.” — HuffPost‘s Jen Bendery.

Backhanded sarcastic compliment for CNN

“CNN winning the timefill before the parade with ‘how did you come up with those hats?’” — TPM‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro.

 Is Fox News getting stale?

“What about Fox News’ viewers? Are they going to go along like sheep? They now have no network that represents their perspective on what seems to be a key issue for Obama’s second term. Is it time for a new Fox?” — The Daily Caller‘s Mickey Kaus in a short post on his view that Fox News is going too far left and has a stale lineup.

In case you care about POTUS’ limo: “The windows in the President’s limo are not tinted. It’s easy to see him when he drives by.” — Former White House Press Sec. and pundit Ari Fleischer.

ABC reporter has Inauguration version of Modern Seinfeld, a USA Today reporter takes an intense picture, HuffPost ladies pose with Paula Abdul and more… Read more

Pundits, Journos Get Pounded (Again)

Journos and pundits felt the sting of strangers’ words last night as they covered the debate. Such is the norm these days in online media.

As Matthew Ortega (who’s he? beats us, we’d never heard of his highness before), a hip hop aficionado and a digital director in Washington, proceeded to call us “trash”, RedState Editor and CNN Contributor Erick Erickson was also taking his online beating. “You sir are an idiot,” declared Sam Cantanzaro (i.e. @samsfoodblog).

Even The Fix, WaPo‘s politically neutral blog wasn’t immune. “Losers: you,” remarked @johnspeake. To which the blog’s proprietor, Chris Cillizza, graciously replied, “Always.”

WaPo‘s Ezra Klein lashed out more generally at all pundits, even though he often straddles a delicate line of punditry, journalism and Democratic strategy. “If pundits want to say who won politically, as opposed to on substance, they should wait for polls of actual voters,” he wrote.

Of course there’s always an element of pettiness that emerges on nights like these. “John King needs a haircut. Time pressure of a campaign must be keeping him from the barber,” wrote Ari Fleischer, a bald CNN Contributor who appeared on the network last night alongside the hairy King.

And insults are a pastime. “The fact that Chris Wallace poses as a straight news reporter is a total joke,” wrote ClearChannel’s Colby Hall, referring to the “Fox News Sunday” host “What a douche.”

During the previous debate, CNN Democratic Political Contributor Paul Begala was told to get a brain and grow some hair. This time, the brilliantly named @eatmerawson remarked, “Paul Begala, you always look like you’ve just sucked on a lemon when you speak on air. Eat some more lemons sourpuss.” Eat Me Raw tagged on a smiley face for good measure.

At 11:22 p.m. Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation came unglued and… Read more

Journo Perks: A Free Blow Dry

This is one that the female journos — and CNN’s John King — should love.

In the mail this week we received one free blowout from the new Drybar, which opens in the Washington D.C. area today. We’re told a decent swath of female journos around town received the free coupons. The two locations around here are Georgetown and Bethesda. The salon is for blow dries only and normally costs $40 a pop. Women can choose from a range of styles like big hair, beachy and sleek and smooth.

Just delightful.

Fish Food

(A Sprinkling of Things we Think you Ought to Know…)

Is John King disappearing?!– Two days in a row now CNN’s John King is missing from our Google alerts. Typically the real John King appears in at least one of the results. Instead, here are the “John King”s who have turned up and we’ll be honest, they’re not all sounding so hot.

1. Former Director of Jail Authority Operations John King of Charleston, W.Va: This King was arrested Tuesday night on suspicions of drunk driving. It marked his third arrest related to driving while intoxicated within the last two years. In April 2011, King was found parked in his driveway with his car still running. His blood alcohol content level was .239. In February, he was arrested after almost driving into several parked cars. His BAC was .191. It’s illegal to operate a vehicle in any states with a BAC of .08.

2. Aviation educator John King: This King has been selected by the National Aeronautic Association to receive the Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education this fall. The award is meant to acknowledge the “passion and dedication in making aviation knowledge more accessible to pilots worldwide by combining elegant technology with clear, fun teaching featuring courseware that simplifies complex concepts for students,” according to a really poorly written NAA release.

3. School Board candidate John King of Indiana: This King is running to unseat an incumbent on the school board in Jasper, Ind. But it turns out he might be a white supremacist. King was once involved with a website called savewhitepeople.com and even cut a video for them. From TriStateHomepage.com:

The video begins with an introduction from King. “I’m John King from the White Voice at savewhitepeople.com. I’m here to talk to you on the subject of global white genocide.” Following King’s opening dialogue, the video transitions into photos, some gruesome, of Caucasian people who King claims were injured by people of different races. Then he goes through graphs and numbers explaining why he believes the white race is rapidly declining and at risk of extinction.

“I am not against anybody. I’m just talking about a ecological scientific problem that exists worldwide,” says King, who compares white genocide to whales in danger of extinction.

Nate Silver shares his media diet– In an interview with AdWeek Nate Silver, who runs NYT‘s “FiveThirtyEight” election blog, said he consumes a wide variety of news sources. “If you’re keeping yourself in the bubble and only looking at your own data or only watching the TV that fits your agenda then it gets boring,” he said. “I think reading broadly, but skeptically. That’s key. You have to try to avoid the temptation to jump on the bandwagon with political news, especially on Twitter where things go viral every couple of hours. In a campaign you don’t have game-changing events every single day. Most of these small viral things burn out. So it’s kind of about waiting those things out but not blinding yourself to the news.”

“Leave Britney Alone” guy visits D.C.– Back in 2007 Chris Crocker gained a little notoriety when a YouTube video he created went viral. In the video, Crocker, eyes smeared with black makeup, hysterically cries to the camera, “LEAVE BRITNEY [SPEARS] ALONE!” It came at a time when Spears having something of a public meltdown. We found Crocker was in Washington at a bar in Dupont Circle. Earlier in the day he had visited the White House. Crocker wouldn’t let us question him at the bar. The gentleman who was with him (he identified himself as Crocker’s manager) said it would be best for Crocker to do the interview when he hasn’t been drinking. So we caught up him today and learned more. He’s in town promoting a documentary about himself, titled “Me @ the Zoo.” The Hirschhorn museum is hosting a public showing of the film tonight at 7:45 p.m. Below is a picture Crocker tweeted yesterday: “In the White House briefing room,” he wrote. Crocker told FBDC that he went on a private tour of the White House and described it as “surreal.” Asked about his D.C. experience as a whole, he said, “It’s a beautiful city.” But he didn’t know what to expect considering what he’d heard. “I actually used to have a tranny friend who lived in D.C. and she used to tell me how the park had needles,” he said, referring to McPherson Square.

Can a Married Couple Save CNN?

The dynamic CNN duo of Mark Whitaker and Amy Entelis were at it again Friday, shooting another pilot that they hope could potentially be the savior for a network going through growing pains.

Whitaker, Executive VP and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, and his hire to head program development, Entelis, are joined at the hip in trying to come up with new ideas for the network, desperately hoping the next boss will keep them around when the anticipated senior executive bloodletting comes to pass.

Who is playing Batman and Robin this time? CNN contributors John Avlon and Margaret Hoover an independent and moderate conservative on air, and off, married. That’s right, CNN is seriously thinking about launching a show with a married couple. They’re no James Carville and Mary  Matalin, a big liberal and conservative. Some still find them entertaining.

Avlon, a columnist for The Daily Beast, has fast become a favorite of the CNN suits in New York, especially with Whitaker, a longtime member of the NY/DC media elite who, insiders say, would love nothing more than turn CNN into a TV version of the NYT.

Avlon is the designated independent voice on the network, even though he is a former speechwriter for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He also has a fantastic head of hair.

Hoover, a middle-of-the-road conservative, also has the kind of pedigree that makes Whitaker salivate. She’s the great-granddaughter of former president Herbert Hoover; an author; and landed at CNN several months ago after failing to come to contractual terms with Fox News. She also brings some of that Fox News hotness, which some think CNN could stand to adopt.

The pilots generated by the program development unit at CNN have left much to be desired as of late, so Entelis reached out to the force behind the CNN Heroes initiative, Kelly Flynn, to helm the pilot. She was a former exec in the program development unit when CNN’s former Executive Director of Program and Talent Development  Joel Cheatwood, who left for Fox News and is now Exec. VP of Mercury Radio Arts, ran the joint. (Boy is he missed!).

Entelis, Flynn, Avlon and Hoover spent all of Friday shooting the pilot in New York, hoping it will be good enough to impress outgoing CNN head honcho Jim Walton, and Phil Kent, head of Turner. With Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes applying the pressure to resuscitate the dying brand, the effort has an urgent feel.

But Avlon and Hoover should beware of mixing it up on the air. The last CNN married couple that was seen daily – John King and Dana Bash – later headed for Splitsville. Sure, she wasn’t a co-host on John King, U.S.A., but she was on so much when it launched that it should have been called the John and Dana Show.

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